TORONTO -- Wilson Alvarez remembers the game as if it happened yesterday -- but would rather talk about the one that was played the day before yesterday.
The 23-year-old left-hander had just pitched a complete-game seven-hitter to revive the Chicago White Sox in the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays. From the back of the room, somebody asked him whether he remembered the first time he had pitched against the Blue Jays.
"I will never forget that game," Alvarez said. "I couldn't get anybody out. I will never forget it."
The date was July 24, 1989, and Alvarez was 19 years old, one of the prizes in the farm system of the Texas Rangers. He walked Junior Felix, gave up home runs to Tony Fernandez and Kelly Gruber, then walked George Bell and Fred McGriff. Say goodbye, Wilson.
Alvarez never threw again for the Rangers, leaving with an ERA of infinity. Four days after that debacle, he was traded (along with Sammy Sosa and Scott Fletcher) to the White Sox for Harold Baines and Fred Manrique.
A little more than two years later, he pitched a no-hitter against the Orioles.
This year, despite a 15-8 record, wasn't as easy for Alvarez as it might have seemed Friday night. On Aug. 24 he was optioned to Triple-A Nashville to open room on the roster for Tim Belcher and to make one minor-league start.
He lost that start, to the Buffalo Bisons, and it's the most recent one he has suffered. Recalled by the White Sox, Alvarez matched rookie Jason Bere (who started Game 4 last night) by winning his last seven decisions during the regular season before beating the Blue Jays on Friday night.
Pat Hentgen attributed his insistence on sticking with his fastball for his 6-1 loss to the White Sox on Friday night.
"I don't think I threw back-to-back breaking balls the whole game," said the rookie right-hander, whose game consisted of three-plus innings. Hentgen gave up nine hits and was charged with six runs.
"I have a tendency to throw too many fastballs," said Hentgen. "Sometimes I just fall in love with one pitch. I didn't make the pitches I should have made. I'm going to have to establish myself with the breaking ball in my next start."
Hentgen's next start will be in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series, in the World Series, or next spring. If it's in the current series, he probably would be just as happy for it to be away from home.
In the regular season, Hentgen was 12-2 on the road, 7-6 at home.
Hit or error?
The biggest play of Game 3 was a hard two-bouncer off the bat of Frank Thomas that was scored a hit in the third inning. Had the ball been played cleanly, it would have been the third out of the inning.
In light of subsequent developments, there's no reason to suspect Hentgen would have escaped without damage, but most likely it wouldn't have been five runs' worth. Third baseman Sprague said he was surprised that he wasn't charged with an error.
"It wasn't a funny hop," Sprague said. "I just couldn't slide my body in front of it. I should have had it. I was surprised it was called a hit."
AL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
CHICAGO WHITE SOX vs. TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Series tied, 2-2
Gm. ... ... ... ... ... Result
1. ... ... .. .. .. ... Blue Jays 7, White Sox 3
2. ... ... .. .. .. ... Blue Jays 3, White Sox 1
3. ... ... .. .. .. ... White Sox 6, Blue Jays 1
4. ... ... .. .. .. ... White Sox 7, Blue Jays 4
Gm. ... ... ... Date ... ... ... Site ... ... ... Time
5. ... .. .. .. Today .. ... ... Toronto .. .. .. 4:10
6. ... .. .. .. Tuesday .. .. .. Chicago .. .. .. 8:12
7. * .. ... ... Wednesday ... .. Chicago .. .. .. 8:12
* - If necessary
TV: All games on chs. 11, 9