DETROIT -- Sergio Santos hasn’t liked being treated with kid gloves this season, but he got a clear view Saturday of what his manager had been worried about.
Santos gave up ninth-inning home runs to Ryan Raburn and Miguel Cabrera in a 9-8 defeat to the Detroit Tigers, and the slim hopes the White Sox had at catching the division leaders were all but crushed.
Ozzie Guillen had hoped to ease Santos into the closer role this season by delaying the steps in the process as much as possible.
When Santos started finishing off games in the first half, Guillen avoided dropping the closer tag on his right-hander.
When Chris Sale emerged with some dominating outings in the second half, he was given a few chances to close games while Santos waited in the wings. Guillen and pitching coach Don Cooper even brought Santos into a meeting to talk to him about it.
It didn’t thrill Santos that Guillen allowed somebody to infringe on his turf, but it was the manager’s way of reducing expectations for somebody that was just in his third season as a pitcher after transitioning over from being an infielder.
Not that Guillen ever wanted to have an I-told-you-so moment, but on Saturday he did and it was clearly what he had hoped to avoid.
“It was just bad location,” Guillen said. “He just threw two bad sliders around the plate.”
When Santos struggles, it’s typically because his slider has failed him. It’s one of the most devastating out pitches in baseball. Without it, Santos can look handcuffed. He tried to find it, but the drives from Raburn and Cabrera showed that he couldn’t. Austin Jackson also had a triple in the inning.
“The one to Raburn I was trying to get in the dirt and get him swinging, but it stayed up and in and he hit it out. And Miggie just, I wanted to get a first-pitch slider over, and he hit it out.”
And that was that.
“I’ll re-evaluate the whole inning, go back to the at-bat with Raburn and maybe I go heater there or something,” Santos said. “Maybe it goes back to not letting guys on base. Going 3-1 to Austin wasn’t ideal. You want to get an out, especially against a team as hot as they are. They just seem to put things together out of nowhere and they’re just playing good baseball.”
There was never really a moment this season when the White Sox could say the same thing. Despite it, they hung around, until the Tigers took charge Saturday.
“I thought we played very well tonight,” Santos said. “Our bullpen kind of let the team down (and) being the ninth-inning guy, I let them down and it’s tough. The good news we put up eight runs and played well, so hopefully we continue that.”