GLENDALE, Ariz. — Mat Latos expected to have a hiccup in his first Cactus League game.
He didn’t expect this.
The White Sox starter pitched well into the fifth inning on Tuesday before he “imploded,” allowing a pair of home runs and a five-spot. The right-hander completed 4 2/3 innings, giving up seven earned runs and 11 hits. Latos struck out four for the White Sox, who rallied past the San Francisco Giants 8-7.
“I kind of expected it,” Latos said. “I didn’t expect it to be a complete explosion, that was embarrassing. But I’m healthy, the knee feels good. Like I said, first inning through fourth inning shows how I really feel. Just again, a dumb move by me. A blonde moment, if you will, just getting out of what I wanted to accomplish and that’s not the game plan. We don’t want to get aggravated when we’re out there. Stick to the game plan. If it’s not broke don’t fix it. I kind of let it to get me and that was a dumb selfish mistake and we’ll progress there.”
Each of Latos’ previous three turns came against teams he would potentially face early in the season. That left him pitching in simulated games and B games against minor-leaguers.
Latos could feel a difference between those contests and Tuesday’s immediately, noting he was so amped he didn’t think he’d throw a strike on his first pitch. But he did and followed with eight straight more strikes before hitting Brandon Belt.
Working with a fastball that touched 92, Latos pitched well in his first four frames. He had a good downward angle on his pitches and liked his command.
But the Giants got Latos out of rhythm in the middle innings with a number of bloop hits and he got untracked.
“I thought the first few he was crisp,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He looked good. He was down. After that, there could be a couple things in there — fatigue, could be getting him out here for the first time. I think it’s just getting him back out here and getting him stretched out and getting him stronger. Encouraged by the start of it just how crisp he was.”
Latos also is encouraged. But he was upset about how he went away from the game plan and how his good misses turned into mistakes.
He allowed home runs to Belt and Miguel Olivo and gave up five hits in his final inning.
“I kind of backed away from what we were trying to accomplish a little bit there,” Latos said. “That’s not something I want to do.
“Just kind of let a couple things get to me, a couple cheap hits and everything just kind of imploded. Started to get away from my main focus and hung a breaking ball and hung a slider.”
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While disappointed by the end, Latos liked enough of what he did. He cracked several jokes in his media session and continues to be upbeat about his work with pitching coach Don Cooper.
Health didn’t appear to be an issue and he got up and down five times. Latos threw 74 pitches and is scheduled to pitch twice more before the regular season.
“It felt really good,” Latos said. “Felt really good to get out there.”
The White Sox took an early 3-0 lead on an RBI double by Jose Abreu, a Melky Cabrera sac fly and an Austin Jackson solo homer. Todd Frazier later singled in a run to cut the Sox deficit to 7-4.
Jimmy Rollins tied the score at 7 with a three-run homer in the sixth and Travis Ishikawa’s solo shot put the White Sox ahead for good.
Tyler Danish lowered his spring ERA to 2.16 with 2 1/3 innings. Nate Jones and Zach Putnam each pitched scoreless frames, too.