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.
We knew that Sergio Santos‘s 0.00 ERA and perfect won-loss and save records wouldn’t last forever, we just didn’t know when the party would end.
Now we do.
In last night’s heartbreaking, extra-inning 6-4 loss to the Dodgers, the walls came tumbling down for Santos and the Sox. The closer gave up a two-out, top of the ninth homer to L.A. third baseman Russ Mitchell that tied the game and surrendered three more runs in the 10th before giving way to Will Ohman.
The result: The Sox drop to nine games behind the Indians, six games below .500 and Santos is now 2-1 with a still outstanding ERA of 1.69.
Santos or no Santos, the Pale Hose offense continues to baffle. Gordon Beckham’s second inning two-run blast was a welcome sight, but he just might not be the player we thought he was. Adam Dunn has delivered occasionally, but his power numbers have been disappointing and he’s hitting below .200. Alex Rios gets a hit once in a while, but he’s not doing what we need him to do. Same goes for Juan Pierre and Alexei Ramirez. If the Sox are going to be a serious postseason contender, we need to snap out of it. Today, if possible.
Sox Note of Note: Mike McDougal, who failed so miserably in a White Sox uniform, recorded the save last night for the Dodgers. Am I the only one who is amazed he’s still on a major league roster?
The duo of Brent Morel and Dallas McPherson (pictured above) is a far cry from the powerful twosomes of Mantle and Maris, Mays and McCovey and even Mauer and Morneau. But at least for one night, one of the most unlikely M & M combos you’ll ever see provided plenty of excitement and set the stage for the much-needed White Sox victory.
For the first half of last night’s game against the Rangers, the formula looked very familiar. Subpar pitching, sloppy defense and the inability to capitalize offensively. It seemed like the same uninspired, lethargic team we’ve seen so often in this young season.
Then, the strangest thing happened. In the bottom of the fifth, Morel tied the game at three with a three-run blast for his first homer of the season. If that wasn’t rare enough, McPherson, the one-time Angel phenom who was just called up from Charlotte to replace DL-bound Mark Teahen, delivered a clutch single up the middle in the eighth that sent Gordon Beckham to third. Just moments later, Beckham scored the eventual game-winner on a wild pitch and Sergio Santos recorded his sixth save in as many opportunities. His ERA remains at 0.00 with 16 consecutive scoreless innings spanning over 20 innings.
It was nice to see Morel come through and Santos continue his streak. But you have to be the happiest for the hard luck McPherson, who certainly stopped to smell the roses after the game.
“Yeah, that definitely was a great moment,” he said. ” It was nice to get that one out of the way. I was looking for something to hook in the four-hole. I miscalculated the sink a little bit, and I kind of got lucky it went over the middle.”
For the record, Dallas’s last major league hit was in September, 2008 with the Marlins.
All you have to do is look at their last two road games against the Twins, including last night’s heartbreak, to know that playing in Minnesota is still a nightmare for the White Sox. It happened at the Metrodome, it’s happening at Target Field and it probably would happen at a Little League field in suburban Wayzata.