Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010
By Brett Ballantini
Sergio Santos enjoyed the best of both worlds on Friday night, pitching in front of an estimated 160 friends and family at Angel Stadiumand he didnt have to spring for many of the ducats, if any.
People had bought their tickets back at the beginning of April, so they all bought them in a bunch and wanted to go the cheapest way, Santos said of his upper-deck cheering section. They wanted to sit together, so they all just bought in that one section.
Even better for the rookie, playing his first game in Southern California, was that he made an appearance in the game, which he began by surrendering leadoff hits to Peter Bourjos and Howie Kendrick in the eighth.
That was probably the most nervous Ive been the entire year, even my first overall inning in April, Santos said. You want to do so well and want everybody to have that good moment. But after the first pitch it kind of went away and I went back to normal.
Normal was punching out Bobby Abreu and Torii Hunter with swinging strikes, before giving way to eventual winning pitcher Matt Thornton. Although Santos hit 98 on the gun with his fastball in the inning, he retired Abreu with a changeup and Hunter with a biting curve.
Santos smile was a mile wide postgame, after getting his first appearance in front of his La Puente, Calif. compadres out of the way.
To be able to get into the first game was good, everybody can relax and know that theyve seen me, said Santos, who is now 2-2 with a 3.08 ERA and more than two strikeouts per walk in 2010. Hopefully, I can get in one more game.
The White Sox again were aggressive on the basepaths, stealing two bags in the game to raise their season total to 147, second in the American League. But the steals themselves arent as important as the disruption the threat of running creates.
The winning run in the ninth was keyed by speed. Juan Pierre, who leads the team in snagged bags with 60 (the second most in a single season in White Sox history), walked with one out. The left fielder had second base stolen on a hit-and-run attempt that Omar Vizquel fouled off, then advanced to second on Vizquels safety flare to right field. With Pierre dancing on second and Vizquel also a speed threat on first, Angels closer Fernando Rodney delivered two juicy fastballs on the plate for Alex Rios, the second of which Rios sent back to centerfield, knocking in Pierre with the eventual game-winning run.
I would think so, Pierre said, laughing over the notion of his speed disrupting the hurler. Youve got to ask Rodney or the Angels, but from the looks of it Rios got a good pitch to hit. I got on and was trying to steal, and Omar got a big hit. With speed on the bases, Rodney definitely cant take his time going to the plate; he has to split his attention, and we came up with a big run.
Whats more, Rios was aggressive despite just giving the White Sox the lead, getting a preposterous jump on Rodney to steal second and move to third on a throwing error by catcher Hank Conger.
Thats the way we play, Pierre said. We have speed and power. Definitely with Rios, hes a 20-20 guy 34 steals, 21 homers, so for him to take the bag right there puts pressure on the Angels and hopefully sets the tone where they might be thinking of steal attempts tomorrow and Sunday.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.