Hector Santiago never lost faith he’d find his role with the White Sox this season.
Santiago began the season as Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura’s choice as closer out of spring training. Santiago lasted a month in that role after blowing 2 saves and having his ERA blow up to 8.53 after 7 appearances.
From there, Ventura experimented with him in each which way as a reliever. Santiago has been called in from the bullpen to face as few as one batter and as much as 4 innings worth of them.
Santiago was asked to pitch in another role – starter. Santiago made his 1st major-league start, allowing 3 hits, one run and three walks while striking out 6 in 5 innings to help the White Sox snap a 4-game unlucky run by defeating the Minnesota Twins 4-2 at U.S. Cellular Field. Football betting lines
Coming off a trip where the Chicago White Sox dropped 6 of 7 games and were swept by the Detroit Tigers, Santiago knew what was at stake on Monday.
“I knew what today meant,” claimed Santiago, who improved to 3-1 and reduced his ERA to 3.71. “I knew it was a large game particularly after we lost the game (Sunday.) I knew I had to come out here, be prepared and give us an opportunity to win.”
Santiago’s night began dicey with a leadoff double by Ben Revere and a walk by No. 3 hitter Joe Mauer in the first inning, but he escaped the inning with back-to-back outs and shortly found his groove. He allowed only 1 more hit over the following 3 innings and his lone run came when Jamey Carroll hit a home run off him in the 5th inning.
“I seriously had all 5 pitches tonight,” Santiago claimed. “In the beginning (of the season), I had one, perhaps two pitches. Going long and getting out there more, I have managed to work on my stuff and have all my stuff. Today, I had fastball command, changeup for strikes, slider, cutter was rather good, my screwball I threw 4-5 times and all for strikes.”
While the season has been one of doubt for Santiago, he’s still found ways to like it. Even remembering when he was demoted as the team’s closer, he took something away from that.
“I learned a lot,” Santiago claimed. “That was a huge learning experience. I learned you couldn’t mess up, especially in the ninth inning. That was something I did a lot. Every time I gave up a home run or blew the lead, it had been a mistake. Learning from there, trying to concentrate and focus more to make the better pitches, and that’s what I have been doing recently.
“It’s been fun (pitching all of the roles.) You never know what you’re going to do. One day, you’re closing. The next day, you’re long relief. The following day, you come in against a lefty. The following day, you’re starting.”
Ventura must come to realize Santiago will do whatever gives the team a chance to win.