BOSTON -- Hector Santiago had a rough night Friday but neither he nor his manager believes it’s workload-related.
The White Sox starter had erratic command throughout an outing in which he eclipsed his professional career-innings mark. Santiago walked five batters, hit another and gave up five hits as he was knocked out after 3 2/3 innings in a 4-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
But Santiago -- who allowed all four earned runs -- believes it more about what was in his head and not about arm strength. The loss was only the third in 13 games for the White Sox.
“I felt fine,” Santiago said. “It was just one of those days where you go out there and stink. You can’t put anything else on it. … I just kind of beat myself up about some of the pitches early in the game. I kind of was still thinking about them. I’m not going to get that pitch so let’s try to make pitches I will get. I went against everything I’m used to doing. I feel behind and never got back into it.”
Santiago entered the game with 130 innings pitched this season, his first as a starting pitcher. He had never thrown more than 132 2/3 innings in his career before Friday.
Though his fastball was lively, Santiago had limited command with strikes on only 52 of 101 pitches.
Santiago walked two batters in the first inning and two more along with a hit batter in the third inning, which led to a run on a bases-loaded walk by Mike Napoli.
Even though Santiago struggled, White Sox manager Robin Ventura saw enough signs to suggest this was nothing more than a rough start.
“If his velocity was down and he looked tired you would probably think that, but everybody has nights like this,” Ventura said. “He had a very high pitch count. They chisel you and squeeze you until you have a high pitch count. They’re not in first place for nothing.”
The pitch count soared to 75 through three innings and it led to Santiago’s demise in the fourth.
He issued a one-out walk to No. 9 hitter Will Middlebrooks, who went on to steal second base and scored on Shane Victorino’s two-out single as Boston grabbed a 2-0 lead. Dustin Pedroia then doubled and David Ortiz snapped a 0-for-23 streak with a two-run, two-out single to put Boston ahead 4-0.
Despite his struggles, Santiago saw a positive in that he was able to pitch his way out of several early jams. He left a pair on in the first inning, stranded another in the second and got Jarrod Saltalamacchia to pop out with the bases loaded to end the third inning.
“Just try to forget about tonight,” Santiago said. “That just can’t happen, especially being a starting pitcher. It’s part of the game. It was only four. It could have been worse. I got out of a bases-loaded jam. Walked in a run, but got out of it.”
The bullpen delivered 4 1/3 shutout innings behind Santiago to keep the White Sox alive.
Dayan Viciedo singled in a run in the fifth inning. The White Sox added two more in the seventh to cut it to 4-3 on a home run to right-center by Avisail Garcia, his second in as many games, and an RBI triple by Alejandro De Aza.
But that was as close as the White Sox got.