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White Sox beat Angels in 2005 ALCS, may see them in October

Angels fans still boo A.J. Pierzynski for fooling umpire Doug Eddings this play ninth inning Game 2 ALCS 2005. |

Angels fans still boo A.J. Pierzynski for fooling umpire Doug Eddings on this play in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS in 2005. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP

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Updated: September 6, 2012 6:35AM

The White Sox and Los Angeles Angels have been traveling divergent paths since their first and only postseason meeting, a 4-1 Sox victory in the 2005 American League Championship Series.

That was seven years ago, and while the Sox’ pennant-winning performance was eventually upstaged by their four-game World Series sweep of the Houston Astros, the ALCS featured some memorably intriguing baseball.

The Angels had to beat the New York Yankees twice in the Division Series — once in New York, once in Anaheim — to move on and face the Sox, and their improbable 3-2 win in the ALCS opener at U.S. Cellular Field gave them three victories in three nights in three states spanning three time zones.

Fatigued? They might well have seized a 2-0 series lead the next night if noted grifter A.J. Pierzynski hadn’t scammed umpire Doug Eddings into believing he was entitled to first base on a dropped third strike after Angels catcher Josh Paul failed to make a clean catch of the pitch Pierzynski whiffed on with two outs in the ninth inning of a 1-1 game.

As Paul fumed, pinch runner Pablo Ozuna stole second and scored when Joe Crede whacked a double into the left-field corner to square the series.

The Sox then ran the table in Anaheim, getting complete-game victories from Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia and Jose Contreras as Paul Konerko went 5-for-13 with two home runs and seven RBI.

“No offense to the Astros, but the Angels series was the one we felt we had to have,” Konerko said before the second Angels-Sox series of the season got under way at the Cell on Friday night. “Once we beat them, we figured we were in pretty good shape.”

Konerko and Pierzynski are the only holdovers from the 2005 title team. The Angels’ makeover has been just as thorough — only pitcher Ervin Santana and infielder Maicer Izturis remain.

While Ozzie Guillen has turned the Sox manager’s office over to Robin Ventura, Mike Scioscia remains in charge of the Angels. Scioscia, in his 13th year, is baseball’s longest-tenured skipper, and it speaks to his stature that his lieutenants are in demand when other teams have openings: Bench coach Joe Maddon (Tampa Bay Rays), pitching coach Bud Black (San Diego Padres) and third-base coach Ron Roenicke (Milwaukee Brewers) have been hired as managers since 2005.

“Mike Scioscia is the first name that comes to mind when you mention the Angels,” Konerko said. “He’s smart, and you know his teams are going to play the right way. They always seem to have speed, defense and starting pitching, and they build out from there.”

If the Angels aren’t mentioned with the Yankees and Boston Red Sox among the AL’s elite, blame East Coast bias — they should be. They are 1,023-928 (.548) under Scioscia, with a World Series title in 2002 — the 51-year-old franchise’s first — and five other postseason appearances.

But owner Arte Moreno developed an itchy trigger finger after a playoff “drought” reached two years, dumping Tony Reagins as general manager and replacing him with Jerry Dipoto. Moreno didn’t like seeing the AL West rival Texas Rangers qualify for the last two World Series, and he anticipated new owners and new money reviving the Los Angeles Dodgers. So he authorized a $330 million spending spree and brought Albert Pujols to Orange County, along with pitcher C.J. Wilson.

Reagins, on the job four years, hardly left Dipoto an empty cupboard; MVP candidate Mike Trout, all of 20, and fellow outfielder Mark Trumbo are among the best young players in baseball, and pitcher Jered Weaver is 14-1 with a 2.29 ERA. Weaver, 29, fronts a formidable rotation that should grow stronger with last week’s acquisition of 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke.

But nothing has come easy this year. The Angels were 7-14 when Trout, a phenomenal talent, was recalled from Class AAA on April 28 and 15-21 when longtime Scioscia aide Mickey Hatcher was fired as hitting coach on May 15.

Pujols, meanwhile, didn’t hit his first homer until May 6. He has hit 23 in the 80 games since, but the Angels spun their wheels in a recent four-game series with first-place Texas, settling for a split after blowing big leads in the last two games. The streak reached three when they squandered another lead in Friday night’s loss to the Sox.

“If you don’t make pitches, these guys will let you know about it,” Scioscia said.

The Sox and Angels will meet again in Anaheim in September. Don’t be surprised if they also see each other in October.

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