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Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Sox's bullpen delivers knockout punch

By Doug Padilla

BALTIMORE – The way Sergio Santos sees it, the White Sox’s bullpen is like a boxer sensing the fight could be coming to a close.

Chris Sale
After a slow start to the season, Chris Sale has become the White Sox's most reliable relief pitcher.

“We can go left-right-left-right-left-right all day,” Santos said. “We have so much confidence in all of our guys that they can all throw in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth inning. There’s not one specific guy who is just good for [a set spot]. We can all mix and match and go out and get the job done when we have to.”

Handed a one-run lead in the seventh inning, the bullpen did indeed go left (Will Ohman), right (Jason Frasor), left (Chris Sale) and right (Santos) to finish off the 4-3 victory that was the White Sox’s fifth consecutive that came on the heels of six consecutive victories.

Only one Orioles batter reached base in that stretch when Frasor allowed an eighth-inning walk.

Sale finished off the eighth, getting the right-handed hitting Mark Reynolds to strike out looking on a slider that started so far out of the strike zone that players on the Orioles bench probably leaned back to let it pass.

“It’s a pitch I’ve been throwing to lefties a lot,” Sale said. “[Catcher] A.J. [Pierzynski] says it looks so far out of the strike zone and breaks back in. It’s been working and feeling good and I’ve been able to throw it for strikes. I have to keep figuring out how to throw it.”

Sale has been dominating of late, posting a 0.97 ERA over his last 27 games. In that stretch he has lowered his overall ERA from 6.48 to 2.75.

After getting his four outs, he turned the ball over to Santos who made it official with the one-out save on a strikeout of Robert Andino. So what was the bullpen’ inspiration Tuesday?

“I think we are feeding off our offense,” Santos said. “Our team just kind of seems like we are finally playing baseball the way everybody thought we would play coming out of spring. It’s just nice.”

And for that growing sentiment that Guillen is about to alienate his relievers by taking victories down to the end only to let Santos get the glory with a one-out save, nobody seems to be complaining about it.

“Everybody down there throwing the ball real well and you get to Sergio at the end of the game, and it’s game over,” Sale said.

Santos not only has a streak of 11 consecutive scoreless outings, Sale has a streak of eight. Santos also has 24 consecutive scoreless outings on the road this season and 29 dating back to last season.

“Our bullpen came out and shut it down,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I think that’s a big key in the American League in close games. Whoever has the best bullpen will be out there.”