It was a tailor-made victory–or so it seemed. Bottom of the ninth, closer Sergio Santos on the mound, a two-run lead, two outs, nobody on base, two strikes on the batter.
But Santos, in only his third year as a professional pitcher and first as a closer, showed his inexperience at handling the pressure. He had a meltdown of gigantic proporations.
Three walks, a hit batsman, a single and a bases-clearing double later, the comfortable 5-3 lead turned into a 7-5 Oakland advantage as Santos (shown above sitting alone with his thoughts after being taken out of the game) gave way to Lucas Harrell to record the final out of the Oakland ninth. And the Sox went down in order in the bottom of the inning.
Short memories are important for closers and fans alike, but this one stings just a little bit more than usual. The Sox failed to capitalize on the fact that both the Indians and Tigers lost. They didn’t let sleeping dogs lie in the form of the A’s, who broke a 10-game losing streak and now may be ready to turn things around at the Sox expense the next two days. Santos, who has been such a breath of fresh air as the closer, has now had his second straight bad outing. And the South Siders relinquished any hope of reaching the .500 mark on this homestand and are now four games under and an even 4-4 since returning to the Cell after their last 10-game road trip.
For all of our sakes let’s hope Sergio’s memory is shorter than mine.