Tagged: Sergio Santos

Ozzie (and Me): “This One Hurts”

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.

Nobody’s Perfect

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?

M & M Boys to the Rescue

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.

Sox Math: Three is Better than Two

61489438.jpgWith a season high three straight victories, Sox fans can begin to take the bags off their heads and start to believe there might be a season after all.
While we’re hardly out of the woods, Carlos Quentin‘s 3 for 4, 5 RBI night that included a three-run homer, Gordon Beckham‘s 2 for 4 with a two-run blast, two-hit nights from Alexei Ramirez and Adam Dunn and seven shutout innings from Edwin Jackson in an 8-0 victory over the Angels will do that to the faithful.
Apart from the recent winning streak, the big news is that Jake Peavy will make his debut on Wednesday. What he can contribute and what it does to the surprising Phil Humber is anybody’s guess. Could some semblance of a six-man rotation be forthcoming?
BASEBALL IS A FUNNY GAME:  Last year during spring training converted infielder Sergio Santos‘s future was uncertain. However, after an impressive spring on the mound he made the ballclub–a moment emotionally captured by MLB Network cameras for the series, “The Club.”  Now, a year later, he is the club’s unofficial closer and has yet to give up a run in 2011. He gave up nada during the spring and has yet to be scored upon in 15 1/3 innings of the regular season. it’s a bit early to think about All-Star Game selections but Santos, along with Paul Konerko, have to be the favorites to represent the White Sox. Just think, an All-Star candidate for the A.L. pitching staff who was a shortstop and third baseman just two short years ago.

Holy Beantown! Pale Hose Sweep Red Sox

55981755.jpgThe battle of the Sox was won today by the White over the Red as the Pale Hose swept a day-night doubleheader at Fenway with identical 3-1 scores to move within 3 1/2 games of the Twins. The suddenly “on-fire” South Siders have now won the first five games of their 10-game road trip with the time-honored formula of outstanding pitching and timely hitting.
John Danks outdueled 15-game winner Clay Buchholz, Gordon Beckham delivered a key RBI double in the seventh inning, red-hot Paul Konerko collected three hits and Sergio Santos and Bobby Jenks preserved the win out of the bullpen in Game 1.
Gavin Floyd was the winner and John Lackey the loser in Game 2 with Scott Linebrink and Chris Sale excelling out of the pen before Jenks got the last four outs for his second save of the night. Offensively, Carlos Quentin smashed a double and a triple while scoring a pair of runs and Mark Teahen had a 2 for 4 night. Due to a pair of Bosox errors, which resulted in two unearned runs, backstop Ramon Castro had the only Chisox RBI with a sac fly.
The Manny Watch:  In his return to Boston, Manny Ramirez went 2 for 4 in the first game and 1 for 4 in the second, all singles.
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“Aside From That, Mrs. Lincoln, How Did You Like The Play?”

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Every team in baseball has to deal with key injuries. Look at the Twins. Justin Morneau has been out since the All-Star break and Joe Nathan has been missing for the entire season. How about the Red Sox? Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Victor Martinez, Jacob Ellsbury, Mike Cameron and Clay Buchholz are among those who have been laid up and Youkilis, Ellsbury and Cameron are out or likely out for the year.
So as much as it took away from last night’s more-exciting-than-it-needed-to-be 7-5 victory over the Orioles and the reality that we gained a game on the Twins, we just have to deal with this unfortunate fact: both Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz are going on the DL and we’ve got to head into the stretch without two key components.
There’s no word at this juncture as to who will replace them. It’s expected that Erick Threets, who has been on a rehab assignment, will take Thornton’s spot–joining rookie Chris Sale as the two lefties in the pen. The other callup could be Carlos Torres or Lucas Harrell, who did such a stellar job when he was promoted to Chicago earlier this year. Or maybe it could be former “cup of coffee” major leaguer Ryan Braun, who has 18 saves and a 2.00 ERA at Charlotte.
Of course, the timing couldn’t be worse. The bullpen has been overworked and struggling as it is. Because of Sergio Santos‘ erratic performance last night and Putz’s injury, Bobby Jenks had to be summoned two days after hurling three innings in Kansas City. The good news is that he was terrific both times–and got the save last night–but how much longer can he hold down the fort by himself? And Ozzie, shown above making the change from Santos to Putz in last night’s harrowing ninth inning, will have to do a major juggling act.
In baseball, sometimes up is down and down is up and what’s expected plays out exactly the opposite. Let’s hope for that.

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This One Really Hurts

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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.

You can also make a very good case that those two games represent the worst Sox defeats of the season thus far. And, eerily, both were 7-6 walkoff losses.
Before last night, that Sunday, July 18 disaster was the one that stung the most. The South Siders enjoyed a three-run lead going into the ninth only to see Bobby Jenks cough up four runs, blow the save and prevent the Sox from splitting their first series after the All-Star break.
For me, that loss was not as bad as last night. Down 4-0 in the first, the Sox battled back to tie the game at 4-4, tied it again at 5-5 on an Alexei Ramirez homer in the ninth and went ahead 6-5 in the top of the 10th. Then “Minnesota” happened. All-Star Matt Thornton gave up a leadoff single to Delmon Young and ex-Sox Jim Thome, he of the “should we keep him, should we let him go” controversy in the offseason, drilled a two-run homer to end the game. Try to get a good night’s sleep after that one.
If that scenario weren’t bad enough, the once strong White Sox bullpen is going through a significant meltdown. Jenks, who appears to be healthy enough to pitch tonight if needed, has not been reliable. J.J. Putz blew two saves over the weekend and now, for the third straight game, a Sox reliever can’t get the job done with a late-inning lead. A pen that once had three possible closers (four if you include Sergio Santos) now has no one they can really count on.
With 43 games to go, all is not lost. But two things trouble me: the fact that the Twins don’t seem to lose anymore, even without Justin Morneau, and the Sox are making a habit of losing close games late. Unless things turn around quickly, I’m afraid we’ll have plenty of time on our hands in October.
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