Blown saves happen. They really just happen and happen and happen. It'd be a mistake to blow one out of proportion, especially after last April convinced everyone that Matt Thornton was suddenly terrible for a month. As brutal as Monday's 10-4 sneak attack loss to the Orioles seemed, there's a very good chance it's all but forgotten in three months.
Concerns about Hector Santiago will persist, on account of the heavy reliance on a fastball he doesn't have tons of command of and that he's still figuring out his out-pitch. There's also not a lot flukey about getting ripped out of the park twice, especially not those home runs. But it was one game, and if Hector Santiago is going to be buried into the depths of the bullpen, there'll be plenty of time for that. Especially if he was really squeezed against the first hitter of the inning, Nolan Reimold. For goodness sake, with one more strike call he could have extended this run of getting saves while hinting at flaws for another few weeks.
It's not like Ventura is of the knee-jerk persuasion anyway
"It’s not the easiest job. But you know, the way I look at it is how he bounces back. I have confidence in taking him right back out there and letting him do it (Tuesday) night."
That's true, the "closer mentality" is about not spiraling into ruts as much as anything, and not spiraling into ruts is about having talent and a sophisticated approach as much as it's about the mentality. Santiago certainly seems like he has the former part under control.
Still, the loss stings a bit extra, because this is pretty much as regrettable as a loss gets. The Sox are being afforded an opportunity to bolster their record against a soft spot in their schedule, and managed to stumble into a late-inning 3-run lead despite not doing anything particularly well.
They scored four runs despite being badly lacking in solid contact off of Jake Arrieta, who struck out 7 in 6 2/3 IP, and kept a 94 mph heater throughout the night. With the three black holes in the lineup (Morel, Dunn, and Beckham) as dark as ever, the Sox needed assistance lucking into a run scoring opportunity for a capable hitter. Since A.J. Pierzynski going off and reaching base all four times up failed to produce any runs beyond his solo HR, the Orioles pitched in.
Chris Davis dropped a routine throw to 1st on a bunt by Brent Morel, which achieved the improbable feat of putting the still helpless-looking Morel on base. That put runners on board for Konerko, who proved his worth for the umpteenth time by pushing an outside fastball down the right field line, scoring two. For good measure, Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters capped off a surprisingly awful night behind the plate by pitching his second ball of the night into center field, allowing pinch-runner Brent Lillibridge to reach 3rd.
Lillibridge later scored on a sac fly; not a booming blast to the warning track, but a flare down the left field line by Alejandro De Aza that would have lacked the distance had Nolan Reimold not gone hurdling into the stands to snag it.
And it really felt like it should have stood up, with the way the Orioles stranded 8 runners and only scored one in the last three tortured innings of Philip Humber's outing.
The outfield gaffes of the 10th inning were really just aesthetic offenses since the jig was up once Zach Stewart was in a tie game, and giving up shots to the wall with regularity. It's not so much that the White Sox were sloppy, it's that they failed to punish their opponent for such an offense. As Kenny Williams himself identified, that's an imperative for them this season.
“There is little margin for error for us. We’re like those Minnesota Twins teams that beat our team when we were more talented. Every time I go to Minnesota and I look up at those division banners, I think we had a better team that year and that year and that year – talent-wise. But they won."
Well, suffice it to say that Monday night ran counter to such an ideal, and can't become a habit, which it isn't yet. So far this season has been more commonly marked by more admirable efforts.
A dear reader recently recommended that I stop worrying about small sample sizes and "appreciate the bleeping game". Well, alright. For now.