Chicago White Sox: Hector Santiago

Guerra optioned as closer choice looms

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
1:30
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox still aren’t saying who their closer will be, but the situation became at least a little clearer Friday when right-hander Javy Guerra was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

The White Sox had claimed Guerra off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday and, since he has some closer experience, he was lumped into the group of pitchers who might be asked to wrap up victories this season. Opening Day is Monday when the White Sox play host to the Minnesota Twins in a 3:10 p.m. CST start.

With Guerra now out of the picture, at least for the time being, the closer role appears to be down to Nate Jones, Matt Lindstrom and Daniel Webb. All three missed time early in the spring and nobody has stood out as a clear-cut choice.

Jones seems likely to get the job eventually, even if he doesn’t start the season as the closer. Lindstrom saved 23 games for the Houston Astros in 2010. Webb was the longer shot on the board with just nine games of major league experience but remained an intriguing candidate.

Jones opened the spring with a gluteus muscle strain and the first appearance of his high 90-mph fastball in Cactus League action was delayed. In eight Arizona appearances he posted a 2.35 ERA while striking out eight of the 32 batters he faced. He did walk three batters in a single outing, though.

Lindstrom was delayed the longest this spring because of an oblique injury. He had one minor setback in his recovery but was able to make three Arizona appearances while posting a 3.00 ERA. He faced 10 batters and struck out two of them.

Webb missed the opening week of action after a death in his family. He returned to post a 2.57 ERA over seven outings and struck out six of the 28 batters he faced.

At the close of Cactus League play on Thursday manager Robin Ventura told reporters in Arizona that his decision on the role was “still a work in progress.”

The three candidates are vying to be the successor to former closer Addison Reed, who was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks this winter. Reed won the role in 2012 but didn’t start out with it that season as Hector Santiago had been named the closer out of spring training.

By sending Guerra down, the bullpen appears set. The White Sox don't have to finalize a roster until Sunday, but they appear to be leaning toward a relief corps of Ronald Belisario, Miakel Cleto, Scott Downs, Jones, Lindstrom, Donnie Veal and Webb.

So far, three-team deal is win, win, win

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
5:15
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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That three-team trade in December between the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks that was supposed to give each team exactly what it needed is doing the impossible: It’s actually giving each team exactly what it needs.

[+] EnlargeAdam Eaton
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsThe trade that netted the White Sox Adam Eaton has worked out well for all parties involved so far.
Trades often purport to have everybody’s best interest in mind, but sooner or later a winner tends to emerge. That still might happen here, but nobody has buyer’s remorse so far.

The main subjects – Adam Eaton to the White Sox, Hector Santiago to the Angels and Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks – have settled in nicely with their new clubs. Sure, spring training games are only a week old, but it’s all we have to go on at this point.

Eaton has been every bit the sparkplug the White Sox were looking for at the top of the order. When he doubled to lead off Friday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds, it gave him six hits in his first 10 official at-bats. In his next at-bat, he was hit by a pitch, stole second base and scored on a single. In his third at-bat he walked.

Eaton promised to wreak havoc on opponents, and so far that is exactly what he has done. He has backed up his confident demeanor with the kind of determined play the White Sox were sorely missing last season.

“Any way, shape or form,” Eaton said, spitting it out like a lifelong mantra.

The 5-foot-8, 185-pounder knows that his keys to success will be his ability to do all the little things.

(Read full post)

White Sox name Jacobs as PTBNL

December, 13, 2013
12/13/13
3:50
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox sent outfielder Brandon Jacobs to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday as the player to be named later in the three-team trade earlier this week that yielded center fielder Adam Eaton.

The deal is now complete with the White Sox landing Eaton, the Diamondbacks getting Jacobs and Mark Trumbo, and the Los Angeles Angels receiving pitchers Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago.

Jacobs, 23, combined to hit .244 with 33 doubles, 13 home runs and 66 RBIs in games split between Single-A Salem, Double-A Portland and Double-A Birmingham. Jacobs was acquired by the White Sox in July in the deal that sent Matt Thornton to the Boston Red Sox.

Sox join Diamondbacks-Angels rumor

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
12:37
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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EatonAP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezAdam Eaton was slowed by an elbow injury last season.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Chicago White Sox are continuing to try to get younger, judging by one of the hottest trade rumors of the winter meetings.

The White Sox have apparently become a third party in the Arizona Diamondbacks' efforts to pry slugger Mark Trumbo from the Los Angeles Angels.

As reported by ESPN.com's Keith Law, the White Sox would send left-hander Hector Santiago to the Angels, while getting highly touted outfielder Adam Eaton from the Diamondbacks. Eaton is a left-handed-hitting leadoff type who plays a hard-nosed style similar to that of Aaron Rowand.

The Diamondbacks would get Trumbo, and the Angels also would receive left-hander Tyler Skaggs, if the rumored deal comes to fruition.

Eaton would presumably take over in center field, flanked by Avisail Garcia in right. If Dayan Viciedo remains the left fielder, Alejandro De Aza could be traded or become the fourth outfielder.

Not a plus defender when it comes to getting jumps on fly balls, or for his route-taking, Eaton can make up for some deficiencies with his foot speed. He batted .381 with a .995 OPS at Triple-A Reno in 2012. His year with the Diamondbacks last season was slowed by an elbow injury.

Santiago has become the White Sox's default left-handed pitching trade chip. The starting rotation is overloaded with four left-handers but three of them don't figure to be dealt. Chris Sale is the staff ace and isn't going anywhere; the asking price on Quintana is huge; and nobody is expected to take on John Danks' contract in a deal.

The White Sox showed in their trades during the 2013 season that they will do everything possible to not pick up any salary for players leaving the team.

Santiago is well aware of trade possibilities, saying last month that it has been on his mind, especially because the White Sox have so many lefty starters.

"We talked about that the other day at [Matt] Lindstrom's wedding, me and [Addison] Reed and Donnie Veal and Lindstrom," Santiago said. "You're going to hear stuff and you don't know what's true and what's not. You don't know what to expect but just be ready for whether it's here or somewhere else."

By trading Santiago, the White Sox would open a rotation spot for right-hander Felipe Paulino, who was signed to a one-year deal Monday with an option for a second year. The final rotation spot after Sale, Quintana, Danks and Paulino could go to either Erik Johnson or Andre Rienzo. The right-handers both made their major league debuts last season.

Santiago ponders trade possibilities

November, 19, 2013
11/19/13
7:55
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- With the uncertainty of trade talk looming above him and many other Chicago White Sox players, Hector Santiago has decided to not sit around to learn his fate.

The 25-year-old, who would be one of four left-handed starters if the White Sox left their rotation unchanged, has not only left his New Jersey roots to relocate permanently to Arizona, he already started throwing in preparation for next season.

Staying active is perhaps the best way to avoid thinking about roster uncertainty that surrounds the White Sox. As the club tries to retool a roster that underachieved in most areas last season, only a handful of players are untouchable.

It is believed only Chris Sale, Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia are off the board when it comes to potential deals, and prying Jose Quintana away would take a deal that knocks the socks off the front office.

"I don't take anything too serious," Santiago said about trade rumors. "You're going to hear stuff and you don't know what's true and what's not. You don't know what to expect but just be ready for whether it's here or somewhere else."

Santiago said he met up recently with teammates Matt Lindstrom, Addison Reed and Donnie Veal at Lindstrom's wedding and trade rumors were a topic of conversation. Also discussed was the left-handed heavy rotation.

"I thought about that a bunch and I was like, 'Are they actually going to go with four left-handed pitchers?' " Santiago said. "I think they can. I think they can sit back and say there are four left-handed pitchers, but they are strong enough that they can get out right-handers because for the most part I think everybody gets out right-handers pretty well and we do a good job against lefties as well."

It isn't the way he would he would plan it, but Hahn claims he wouldn't object to starting four lefties next year.

"Ideally there's a little bit more balance, but we don't feel pressure to make a move to create that balance," Hahn said. "We've got some high-quality starting pitching here. It just happens a lot of it is left-handed."

Santiago says he expects to be one of those lefty starters and a telling sign seemed to come at the start of September, when pitching coach Don Cooper nixed the idea of winter ball.

Santiago pitched during the winter last season, but the White Sox felt his career-best 149 innings in 2013 were plenty.

"I think them shutting me down is leading to signs that they are saving my arm so hopefully I can get to 200 innings next year," Santiago said.

Jose Quintana's value could be explored

September, 17, 2013
9/17/13
11:54
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The better Jose Quintana gets, the bigger the possibility he could end up on somebody else’s roster to start the 2014 season.

It’s not like the Chicago White Sox underestimate Quintana’s value. Far from it. The reality, though, is that the club is heavy on left-handed starters, and Quintana could ultimately prove to be the best trade chip to beef up another area of the roster.

The left-hander was at it again Tuesday night, finding the focus to deliver even as the season drifts off into oblivion. He gave up just one run over six innings while dropping his ERA to 3.49, the lowest it has been since the tail end of May.

[+] EnlargeJose Quintana
Brian Kersey/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Jose Quintana tallied his first win since Aug. 16. It was a relief for the lefty starter after having posted a franchise-record 17 no-decisions this season. "I feel great, I feel wonderful, because my team won tonight," he said.

“He just continues to battle and he just finds a way to get through innings,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He always seems to make the tough pitch when he needs to. Fortunately, tonight he got a decision. That’s probably something that’s wearing on him a little bit and it hasn’t shown too much.”

Already saddled with a franchise-record 17 no-decisions, Quintana was able to walk away with a victory Tuesday, his first since Aug. 16, also against the Minnesota Twins.

The major league record for no decisions in a season is 20, set by Bert Blyleven in 1979; it’s a record Quintana won’t be able to match, since he is in line to make just two more starts before season's end.

Quintana was feeling so good after Tuesday’s contest he did his postgame interview in English, eschewing his normal translator.

“I feel great, I feel wonderful, because my team won tonight,” Quintana said. “Every time I have the opportunity for a win, I’m happy for that.”

Wins and losses are out of a pitcher's control, but the numbers are often seen as an indicator of what type of season it was. At 8-6, Quintana’s won-loss mark nowhere near explains what kind of season he has had.

“To me, [his demeanor] is his best thing going,” White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. “Everybody in here always talks about it. He’s just very composed during the game, after the game. You can’t really tell [the difference]. Rarely do you ever see him even change facial expression. He’s very poised. He trusts his stuff well.”

The 24-year-old hurler sounds every bit a keeper who could bring stability to the starting rotation moving into next season. But the rotation is being built around left-hander Chris Sale, while fellow lefty John Danks would be difficult to trade with another three years and $42 million remaining on his contract. There is another left-hander in Hector Santiago, but his value on the trade market can't match what Quintana offers.

Ventura knows just how valuable a quality young arm is to a ballclub, not to mention an affordable one.

“He figured it out really quick as far as him coming up last year as a spot starter, and it just seemed to click,” Ventura said. “I think that was something we noticed first, in [his first start in] Cleveland, that he has the competitiveness and the stuff to be able to do it and compete at this level.

“I think last year was very valuable in just keeping him here and going into this year,” he said. “You just seem like you're in games all the time when he's pitching. That's good for a team to have, especially the players going in, that when he's pitching you know you're going to be in that game. He just seems to bring that out.”

While trading a quality arm such as Quintana’s is a gamble, the White Sox aren’t expected to make such a move without getting high-level talent in return. Yet there is always the risk that by trading Quintana, they turn a strength (read: starting pitching) into a weakness.

Ultimately, the White Sox could come to the conclusion that even if they were offered a trade package to upgrade weaknesses, they could decide that keeping Quintana is the better move. Making sure it’s a rotation full of head-strong competitors figures to be a priority, as well.

“He’s been pretty steady as far as his personality and everything else that goes with having so many games without an immediate result for him,” Ventura said. “You can win or lose games, but when it’s not on your record it becomes something that he’s been able to deal with fairly well.

“He just goes about his business. He’s a mature kid. It’s one of the things about him, even last year, that we saw is he’s a competitor. He’s a tough kid. But he has maturity above his age.”

Gassed Santiago won't make next start

September, 17, 2013
9/17/13
8:45
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Hector Santiago will be skipped his next time through the rotation and there is an outside chance he is done for the season.

The left-hander isn't injured, but isn't looking like himself either.

"Yeah, the last few starts he's had, he just looks tired," manager Robin Ventura said. "Pitching as many innings as he has this year, just give him a rest and see what he does next time out."

That next time out could be next season. The White Sox's daily game notes list starters through Monday's makeup game at home against the Toronto Blue Jays and Santiago isn't on the list. If he pitches again, it would have to be on one of the last six games of the season.

Santiago has made 22 starts this season with a career-high 142 2/3 innings. His previous career best was the 132 2/3 innings he pitched over three different levels in 2011. He hasn't lasted more than five innings in any of his last three starts, while throwing at least 94 pitches in each of those outings.

Santiago's 4-9 record this season hardly is anything to brag about, but he has a solid 3.53 ERA, while his 136 strikeouts nearly give him one an inning.

The White Sox will now revert to a five-man rotation after using six starters since the start of September. The remaining members of the rotation are Jose Quintana, John Danks, Andre Rienzo, Chris Sale and Erik Johnson.

Shutting down a starter possible

September, 14, 2013
9/14/13
8:04
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- With John Danks looking as if he has run out of gas and Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago near or beyond career highs in innings pitched for the Chicago White Sox, there is a chance somebody could get shut down before the season ends.

Danks, who missed a year of action after shoulder surgery in August 2012, would seem to be the prime candidate since his velocity is slightly down and his command hasn’t been sharp. But there could be value in building his innings moving toward next season. He is at the 131 1/3 mark after 21 starts.

As of now, Danks is penciled to start Wednesday in the Sox’s homestand finale against the Minnesota Twins.

“I think there’s a little bit of a debate there,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. “We could do that with pretty much all of [the starters] just because where we’re at in the season and looking forward to next year.”

Chris Sale is already at a career high 195 2/3 innings, while Quintana’s 179 2/3 is slightly behind his combined total of 185 last year. Santiago’s 142 2/3 innings is more than the combined 132 2/3 he had over three levels in 2011.

Then there is Andre Rienzo, who isn’t gaining traction at the major league level after a solid minor league season. He gave up five runs on seven hits over four innings to the Indians on Saturday and now has 50 major league innings to go along with the 113 he pitched at Charlotte. That combined total is a career high.

The White Sox are operating with a six-man starting staff, so shedding one pitcher is a possibility. The problem is that the starters who forge on will be pitching more frequently.

“We still have to have guys go out there and pitch,” Ventura said. “If it looks like it’s a better decision to keep a guy from throwing, we’ll probably do it.”

Rapid Reaction: White Sox 3, Rangers 2

August, 24, 2013
8/24/13
9:34
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox evened the series against the first-place Texas Rangers with a 3-2 victory on Saturday.

How it happened: Josh Phegley delivered a game-ending single in the bottom of the ninth, the first game-ending hit of his career. It was the eighth game-ending hit by the White Sox this season. The teams traded home runs in the sixth inning, with former White Sox outfielder Alex Rios hitting a two-run shot and Adam Dunn matching that. Former White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski singled in front of Rios' home run. Chicago starter Hector Santiago dueled Rangers starter Yu Darvish to a draw.

What it means: Santiago continues to impress in a starting role, giving up two runs to the Rangers in 6 1/3 innings, a day after staff ace Chris Sale was crushed for eight runs in his outing. The left-hander has lost just twice after June 16, although he also has seven no-decisions. He has given up a combined four earned runs over his past three outings, starting against the Tigers and at Minnesota before facing the Rangers on Saturday.

Outside the box: Dunn moved within one of reaching the 30-homer mark for the ninth time in his career and second with the White Sox. He hit 41 last season. His opposite-field drive off Darvish on Saturday moved him into sole possession of 41st place all time with 435, one ahead of Andruw Jones and Juan Gonzalez. Dunn is now two home runs shy of matching Jason Giambi for 40th place all time.

Off beat: Pierzynski was hit by one of his old teammates again. Santiago drilled him in the back with a 90 mph fastball. Pierzynski made a non-threatening gesture at Santiago before running to first base, where he looked to be laughing about it with Paul Konerko. Earlier this season at Texas, Addison Reed hit Pierzynski with a pitch.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander John Danks (3-10, 4.22 ERA) to the mound Sunday in the finale of the three-game series. The Rangers will counter with right-hander Matt Garza (3-1, 4.32) in the 1:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Options aplenty with versatile Santiago

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
12:54
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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SantiagoNuccio DiNuzzo/Getty ImagesHector Santiago's versatility makes him a valuable part of the Sox's pitching staff.
CHICAGO -- Because of his versatility as a pitcher, debate still rages as to what is the best role for Hector Santiago moving forward, especially when considering the Chicago White Sox's offseason needs.

What's not in debate, though, is his willingness to stand up for the team. The left-hander put that on display Tuesday night when he pitched despite feeling weak from an infected root canal that kept him bed for most of the previous 24 hours and caused severe swelling on the right side of his face.

"I almost felt bad letting him go out there the way he was looking and probably feeling," manager Robin Ventura said. "That was more my fault. For him to gut through it, he's a tough kid and he was ready to go out there."

Looking toward next season, there are plenty of options when it comes to Santiago. He's showed he can be a viable starter moving forward and all of this year's experience should only help to make him even better in the future.

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Infection, fever can't slow Santiago

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
12:21
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- That wasn’t tobacco or sunflower seeds in Hector Santiago's right cheek Tuesday, it was the remnants of a good old-fashioned tooth infection.

Santiago lasted five innings against the Detroit Tigers, giving up two runs (one earned) on six hits despite that fact that he had shooting pain in his face. The White Sox eventually won 4-3 in 11 innings.

On Monday morning, Santiago went to the dentist to have a toothache and moderate swelling examined. The dentist recommended a preventative root canal in order to not make matters worse, but things backfired when the infection grew not long after the procedure.

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Rapid Reaction: White Sox 4, Tigers 3

August, 13, 2013
8/13/13
11:26
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox evened the three-game series with a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field.

How it happened: Alejandro De Aza hit a game-ending single in the 11th inning for the victory. The White Sox were close, but couldn’t tag Tigers starter Max Scherzer with his second loss of the season. They carried a one-run lead into the eighth inning before the Tigers got Scherzer off the hook with the game-tying run that came, in part, because of an Alexei Ramirez fielding error. Former Tigers outfielder Avisail Garcia had given the White Sox the lead with a two-run triple in the fourth inning and then scored when Omar Infante's throw to third base got past Miguel Cabrera. White Sox starter Hector Santiago gave up two runs over five innings, but just one was earned.

What it means: A day after appearing to force the issue in his first game against his former club, Garcia looked at least a little more relaxed Tuesday. His fourth-inning triple was his third hit with the White Sox and first extra-base hit. He also delivered his first two RBIs with the White Sox. His hard grounder in the ninth inning was changed from an error to a hit and his walk in the 11th inning allowed him to eventually score the game-winning run.

Outside the box: Sure there were two hits from Ramirez to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, but he also committed three errors. The White Sox had committed just one error in their previous 11 games after making 15 miscues in the 11 games before that. Their eight-game errorless streak, their longest since 2011, ended Saturday. The White Sox entered 11th in the American League with a .982 fielding percentage.

Off beat: So much for that outing June 30 when White Sox rookie pitcher Andre Rienzo didn’t allow an earned run in his major league debut. MLB overturned an official scorekeeper’s call and gave Carlos Santana a single instead of charging Ramirez with an error at shortstop. It means that all three runs in that outing were earned and Rienzo’s ERA rose from 2.95 to 4.42. Before the ruling was overturned, Rienzo had been the first White Sox pitcher to go at least seven innings and not allow an earned run since Jack McDowell in 1987.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander John Danks (2-10, 4.52 ERA) to the mound Wednesday in the finale of the three-game series. The Tigers will counter with right-hander Rick Porcello (8-6, 4.32) in the 1:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Rapid Reaction: White Sox 6, Yankees 5

August, 7, 2013
8/07/13
11:15
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox pulled off the three-game sweep of the New York Yankees, rallying for a 6-5 victory in 12 innings.

How it happened: First the White Sox crashed Mariano Rivera’s farewell party on the South Side as a pair of two-out hits in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Hall of Fame-bound closer a blown save. It was Rivera’s third blown save this year and the 77th of his career. Gordon Beckham doubled with two outs in the ninth and Adam Dunn tied it on a pinch-hit RBI single. After the Yankees took the lead in the 12th on a home run from Robinson Cano, Alejandro De Aza won it with a two-out, two-run triple off reliever Adam Warren. Beckham had two RBIs in the game, while Paul Konerko had an RBI double. The White Sox trailed 4-0 after four innings. Hector Santiago had a rocky start for the White Sox, giving up four runs in 5 2/3 innings.

What it means: In his last outing at U.S. Cellular Field, Rivera failed to do what he does best. Entering the game to a standing ovation and asked to protect a one-run lead, Rivera got fly outs from Alex Rios and Paul Konerko before Beckham and Dunn got their back-to-back hits. His career save total at U.S. Cellular Field will remain at 21. He has 41 saves in his career against the White Sox. Rivera was recognized Tuesday with a framed box score of his first outing at U.S. Cellular Field in 1995 and a photo collage from when the Yankees played in Chicago in the first game after play was suspended because of 9/11. The White Sox also donated $4,200 to the Jackie Robinson Foundation in Rivera’s name.

Outside the box: Santiago, a native of Newark, N.J., had been on a roll until facing the Yankees. He gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks in his 5 2/3 innings of work. It was the first time he had given up more than three earned runs in an outing since June 28 against the Cleveland Indians. He entered with a 2.75 ERA over his last six starts.

Off beat: It took a century and needed a pair of improbable comebacks to do it, but the White Sox have finally swept the Yankees in consecutive series of at least three games. The last time it happened was in 1913 when the White Sox swept a four-game series after sweeping a three-game set in 1912. The White Sox swept the Yankees at home in August of last season and did it again this week. It was the White Sox’s first three-game sweep since May 24-26 when they turned the trick against the Miami Marlins.

Up next: After a day off Thursday, the White Sox will return to action Friday with a day-night doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins. John Danks (2-9, 4.52 ERA) will start in the 1:10 p.m. CT opener, while Charlie Leesman (0-0, 0.00) will make his major league debut in the 7:10 p.m. second game.

Santiago a bright spot in dismal season

August, 2, 2013
8/02/13
10:02
PM CT
By Chuck Pleiness
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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DETROIT -– If the Chicago White Sox, mired in an eight-game losing streak, are looking for any kind of bright spot in this dismal season, they can turn to the quality start turned in by pitcher Hector Santiago on Friday night at Comerica Park.

[+] EnlargeHector Santiago
Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsHector Santiago has allowed two or fewer runs in 11 of his last 15 starts.
Santiago gave up two runs or less for the fifth time in his past six starts, but was still saddled with a 2-1 loss at the hand of the Detroit Tigers.

“Looking at Hector’s night this was probably one of his better jobs,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said after the game. “He’s had the fourth, fifth innings where he’s had a little bit of hiccup, where he gets a little wild, walks a few guys, and I think tonight he was as smart as he’s ever been. He was locating. He had a little zip on it even late. It was good stuff from him.”

Santiago allowed just two runs on six hits and struck out seven in seven innings of work.

“For any young guy, this year for him he’s got to build on that,” Ventura said. “You put him basically in his first year of starting up here and any hiccup is going to cost you. I thought tonight was a step in the right direction for him. He got through without getting wild where he has no idea why he just walked two or three guys and then they get one hit and the next thing you know you’re down a few runs.”

Santiago, who began the 2012 season as the White Sox’s closer, has allowed two or fewer runs in 11 of his past 15 starts, lowering his earned run average to 3.28.

He credits his improvement as the season has gone to better control of his pitches.

“I’m now getting to where I can feel both of my sliders,” Santiago said. “I can feel the hard one and I can feel the little slow one and put it in there for a strike. I couldn’t feel that earlier in the year. I couldn’t tell if it was going to come out 80 [miles per hour] or 70. Now I’m getting to the point where I can feel it and I know where I want to throw it. I’m getting to the point where I know where I’ve got to release it and how it’s coming out of my hand. It’s about paying attention to every release point of every pitch.”

Santiago entered the game allowing 25 walks over his past nine starts, which tied him for the fifth-most free passes in the American League since June 9.

He gave up just one walk on Friday.

“After [the first inning] I was kind of locked in from there on out,” said Santiago, who gave up his lone walk in the opening frame. “I didn’t think of whether or not to pitch around them. I just went with my best pitch.

“I was locked in during bullpen for sure and I just took it into the game,” Santiago continued. “It just kind of fell about for one or two hitters out there, but then I got locked back in and it went from there. So far, one of my better controlled days by far.”

Santiago’s confidence also got a little extra boost when he found out that Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was a late scratch from the lineup.

“You get a little more enthusiastic when he’s out of the lineup, for sure,” Santiago admitted. “You go in with the same game plan, but with him being out that was definitely a relief, for sure.”

But it again came down to the lack of run support the White Sox's hitters provided the starting pitching. Entering play Friday, Chicago’s starting pitchers had a 2.76 ERA over the past seven games, all of which ended in losses.

“It’s tough, but maybe if the starters did a little bit more maybe it would be a 1-0 game instead of a 2-1 game,” Santiago said. “You’re not going to put that on yourself, obviously. It was a good game, a quality start and you gave up two runs against a starting lineup like that. I mean Cabrera’s not in the starting lineup, but still it’s an overall very good lineup.”

Rapid Reaction: Royals 4, White Sox 2

July, 28, 2013
7/28/13
4:44
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox were swept for the seventh time this season in a series of three games or more in a 4-2 defeat to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field.

How it happened: Alex Gordon hit a two-run home run off reliever Donnie Veal in the 12th inning to give the Royals the victory. After the Royals took a 1-0 lead in the first, the White Sox came back in the bottom of the inning to tie it on a Paul Konerko RBI single. The Royals took the lead again in the fourth inning before the White Sox tied it on Adam Dunn's 25th home run of the season. White Sox starter Hector Santiago gave up two runs in 6 2/3 innings while Royals starter Bruce Chen gave up two runs over six innings.

What it means: It was yet another outing where Chen gave the White Sox fits, but they at least managed to figure out a way to not get beat by the left-hander. Chen might have been used mostly as a long man out of the bullpen, but he can always find his old form against the White Sox as he gave up two runs on just three hits over six innings against them. Chen was making just his third start of the season and second appearance against the White Sox after going 4 2/3 innings against them on June 21.

Outside the box: Dunn has now hit at least 25 home runs in 11 his last 12 seasons. The only time he didn’t reach the number was his first year with the White Sox in 2011 when he hit 11. It was the 431st home run of Dunn’s career, tying him with Cal Ripken for 43rd on the all-time list. Paul Konerko is just two home runs behind Dunn and Ripken.

Off beat: Who says a disappointing season has to lack drama? Sunday’s game was the 77th time this season a White Sox game was decided by three runs or less, which is over 75 percent. In fact, 36 of the White Sox last 49 games have been decided within that run margin. The White Sox entered having played 35 one-run games this season, going 14-21 in those contests. That was third most in baseball. Who entered play Sunday with the most one-run games? Why the Royals of course at 37.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander John Danks (2-8, 4.81 ERA) to the mound Monday at Cleveland to open a four-game series. The Indians will counter with right-hander Zach McAllister (4-6, 3.57) in the 6:05 p.m. start from Progressive Field.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Alexei Ramirez
BA HR RBI R
.379 4 14 13
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Ramirez 4
RBIA. Ramirez 14
RA. Eaton 15
OPSA. Ramirez 1.044
WC. Sale 3
ERAC. Sale 2.30
SOC. Sale 29