It had to end sometime.
Well, technically, it didn't. It's statistically possible that Santos could have gotten through the entire season stranding every single one of his runners while pitching over lingering control problems and getting lucky as hell. It simply would have been preposterously difficult, but not impossible.
Instead, Sergio merely completed the incredibly remarkable task of pitching 20.2 straight scoreless innings....it's just that we'll probably remember that it ended via a solo home run to tie Friday night's game with 2 outs in the 9th.
Or the 3 runs and 4 hits he gave up the next inning to take the loss.
As much as Santos seemed like the first gasp of non-poisonous air, the
first respite from cruel fate in the 9th inning for White Sox fans, he's
been riding the luck dragon rather than fleeing for his entire career.
Coming into Friday night, Santos' career xFIP was 1.39 higher than his
career ERA, and he was sporting a .190 BABIP for the season of 2011. No
stranger to long, improbable streaks, Santos went the first 38.1 IP of
his major league career without giving up a HR, and had a 31 IP streak
snapped Friday night.
Certainly, pitchers can avoid home runs, and Santos is a pitcher with
lights out stuff (three plus offerings) and decent groundball ratios,
but to stave off gopher balls that long in U.S. Cellular Field is
friggin' insane. A lot more insane than giving up a HR to a guy with a
.406 career OPS.
On top of that, Friday night vs. the Dodgers would have been Sergio's 4th one-run save in a row, and 5th overall. And in his two appearances before that he entered tie ballgames!
Closers are inherently working without much margin for error and being
dropped into jackpots all the time, but Santos hasn't been allowed to
make a single mistake without blowing the game in almost three weeks.
For him to get through this gauntlet scot-free would have required
non-human traits, which Sergio is only capable of imitating for
stretches. Impressively long stretches, but just stretches.
Wins, saves, there's just no traditional metric that the White Sox offense can't make their pitchers look bad with.
Don't ask me what the deal with Matt Thornton is though, that dude just ain't right.