Santiago struggles with pitch count, exits early

Santiago struggles with pitch count, exits early
September 7, 2013, 5:15 pm
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By Jake Rill

BALTIMORE — White Sox starter Hector Santiago might not have left his team in the best position to win Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles, but he certainly can’t be to blame for the 4-3 extra-inning loss.

Though Santiago's outing was brief, the Orioles did not lead when he exited. However, he did struggle early. The left-hander said that’s nothing new.

“It’s been the same story all year,” Santiago said. “It’s like the first two innings are like high, and then I kind of have some decent innings that can get me deeper in the game. But those first two innings end up killing me right there.”

In the first inning, Santiago gave up a two-out RBI double to Chris Davis. In the second, he yielded a leadoff double to Danny Valencia.

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He was able to strand Valencia at third, but he issued two walks to load the bases and faced seven batters before getting Manny Machado to ground into a fielder’s choice to escape danger.

“He was all over the place,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s been better. Again, he’s just finding himself in a high pitch count early. He’s going to have to be able to locate and get through it a little bit easier.”

Santiago did have some easier innings. He retired Adam Jones, Davis, and J.J. Hardy in order in the third. And after allowing a leadoff single in the fourth, he got a ground out and a pair of strikeouts.

But in the fifth, the left-hander gave up a homer to Brian Roberts and had runners on first and third with nobody out.

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Again though, Santiago was able to strand the baserunners, as he preserved the 2-2 tie before exiting.

“I was trying to battle through it and not give in again, but they just worked the count, foul ball after foul ball,” Santiago said. “But those first two innings end up killing me right there.”

In the end, Santiago was saddled with his fifth no-decision in his last eight starts. Of those eight outings, he has given up two runs or fewer in six of them. But he also has gone longer than six innings just three times.

Ventura said that’s the main thing the left-hander needs to work on.

“You start using that much to get through five, you’re not going to be in there that long. So he’s just going to have to battle,” Ventura said. “He knows that, and he’s just going to have to get better.”