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World Series rookies push right buttons

Series rookies push right buttons

CHICAGO -- Of all the first-time World Series participants who took the field for Game 1 on Saturday night, and there were many, two guys who didn't swing a bat, throw a pitch or field a ball definitely made their presence known.

Neither Chicago's Ozzie Guillen nor Houston's Phil Garner had managed in a game of this magnitude before, but both pushed all the right buttons in their respective debuts, allowing the players to determine the outcome, not the decisions.

Actually, their managerial handiwork helped make the 5-3 victory by the White Sox what it was -- a tightly contested, tense game worthy of the stage upon which it was played, under baseball's autumn spotlight.

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The managerial score is clear, however: Guillen 1, Garner 0.

"You just saw a Chicago baseball game," Guillen said afterward. "It's the White Sox, the way we run."

And Guillen ran the White Sox like a champ.

That said, don't go looking for anything before or after the game to tell you why it wasn't a Houston baseball game, or why Ozzie's got the 1-0 World Series edge over Scrap Iron. It's not there.

"We hit some balls a foot one way or the other, might be a different ballgame, but it wasn't," Garner said. "They made the plays."

Everything that they could control came out right for these two World Series rookies. Certainly, Garner couldn't control the biggest break that went against his club, the debilitating hamstring injury to starter Roger Clemens.

Each of them had moments that they pushed the right buttons, both in a big way.

For Guillen, his best call of the night before he finally opened the bullpen gates, and just at the right time, was a hit-and-run in the second inning that led to the White Sox taking back the lead after solo homers for each team had tied the game.

With a 2-and-1 count on Aaron Rowand, Guillen sent Carl Everett from first base and Rowand bounced a ball through the hole left behind when Astros second baseman Craig Biggio went to cover second base, allowing Everett to go from first to third. When A.J. Pierzynski grounded to the right side, Everett scored the go-ahead run.

Garner had his right-button moment in the fifth, when he chose to intentionally walk Rowand to bring slow-footed Pierzynski to the plate. The move almost backfired when Pierzynski drove long foul balls to each side of the stands, but it worked out perfectly when Pierzynski hit into a 3-6-1 double play that kept the White Sox edge at a single run.

When it came down to the final innings, the two managers really faced off, and Ozzie won out because his players outperformed Garner's players.

In case you're coming out from under a rock, Guillen's bullpen hadn't seen but two-thirds of an inning of work since the Division Series. But Guillen certainly knew enough to leave Neal Cotts -- the guy who'd pitched those two-thirds of an inning in the ALCS -- in against both right-handers and left-handers in getting two key outs in the eighth.

Garner's decision to stick with left-handed hitting Mike Lamb drew a question or two afterward, but the guy has been nails this postseason.

That set up the matchup of the night, pitting the flamethrowing rookie Bobby Jenks against the veteran superstar Jeff Bagwell, who drew the start in the DH spot -- and why not? It's Jeff Bagwell, for crying out loud. He didn't do anything to hurt the Astros, and he certainly belonged in the team's first World Series game.

While facing a power right-hander might have been a concern for Bagwell because his right shoulder ails him, his cuts against Jenks didn't make him look injured at all. Fact is, Bagwell at his very best probably couldn't get it done against Jenks on this night, and nobody else really had much of a chance against this guy.

Looking back, this game was in the bag when Guillen made his walk out to the mound to get Cotts and bring in Jenks, asking for the 6-foot-3, 270-pound closer with a bit of charades to make it absolutely clear.

Tall. Wide.

Ah, yes, Jenks.

"I've got two righties, I've got the little one, and I don't want to make the mistake I made last year in my career [when] I called in the lefty to bring in the righty," Guillen said. "And I want to know the guy I want to [bring in]. So that's the trademark, now. I don't want to embarrass the kid, but I want the big boy."

Sure, Guillen put his special Ozzie touch on it, but that's not exactly managerial genius there, bringing in a tractor trailer to strike out three of the last four batters with 100-mph heat.

But by the time it came down to that point, it was out of the managers' hands.

They'd both done what they could do, and done it well.

John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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