Do Not Go Gentle: Knights lose, but still have fun

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hector Santiago threw a major-league-caliber start and Luis Robert showed why he belongs in another city that starts “Ch,” but the Charlotte Knights dropped this one 5-3 to the Pawtucket Red Sox on Friday night.

The Sox signed old friend Santiago to a minor league contract near the end of June; of course, he had been a rotation stalwart for the major league team in 2012 and especially 2013. He came back for a 102-inning stint in 2018, after bouncing around with the Angels and the Twins, then signed with the Mets for 2019. He gave up six runs in eight major-league Mets innings, was DFA’d, then was picked up by the Sox days later. And now he’s here! 

Santiago has now made six starts for Charlotte, and in four of them, he went either five or six innings and gave up four runs. In his first, he gave up one run over five innings. In his latest tonight, he had his best start yet: it took him 91 pitches to get through six full, allowing six hits and two runs (one earned), walking zero and striking out eight. Santiago’s last few years in the majors have been marred by vast quantities of home runs and walks allowed, which is a coincidence, because the White Sox have a yawning black hole swallowing the back half of their rotation that does nothing but allow home runs and walks. Santiago might not be the best option, but he really couldn’t be worse, we (I) love him already, and he pitched very well tonight, so he checks off the “what has he done for me lately” box.

The fact that Santiago was starting was a happy surprise for me, someone who loves Hector Santiago. This Charlotte expedition has been in the works since Luis Robert was promoted from the Barons to the Knights (meaning, back to within driving distance of me), and he did not disappoint (me). In the third inning, Robert took that sweet swing of his and drove a ball between infielders that hit the ground just beyond the infield dirt and somehow ended up in the vicinity of the outfield wall. He rounded first, looked at the ball, decided not to stop. This is something that Robert does, the world will soon find out. He will not stop. You can try to stop him. He approached second base without slowing. He took that beautiful Luis Robert Rounds Second step. He decelerated into third, where manager/third base coach Mark Grudzielanek was going nuts, realized he had a shot, and took off, an arrow jumping off the bowstring, a cheetah exploding into motion, a rocket ship launching into orbit. Luis Robert charged home, and he was not stopped.

I’ve always been of the opinion that if it looks like an inside-the-park-home-run and quacks like an inside-the-park-home-run, it’s an inside-the-park-home-run, but this was scored as a triple with an error by the second baseman, who dropped the relay throw. That’s fine. It doesn’t matter what it was scored as. I don’t care if it was a four-error, four-base play. This is what Luis Robert is about to bring to the city of Chicago.

There were other points of excitement during this game, of course. Filed under “you see something new in this game every day” was Red Sox starting pitcher Ryan Weber getting docked a ball for taking too long between pitches. Filed under “I’m guessing he wouldn’t have tried this in a major league game” was Tim Anderson calling left fielder Jacob Scavuzzo off a popped-up ball that went fairly deep onto the grass, reaching up to grab it, and having it bounce off his glove for an error. Filed under “my god, is that allowed” was Daniel Palka’s ninth-inning home run with two outs, the definition of a moonshot, a baseball that attached itself to wax wings only to find them melting away the higher it got, finally dropping back to earth somewhere on the concourse beyond the right field wall.

Somewhere in all this, Zack Collins singled, Alcides Escobar doubled him to third, and he scored on a wild pitch. Somewhere else, Zach Thompson pitched one scoreless inning, then gave up a deep three-run bomb in his second inning of work to occasional major leaguer Chris Owings, a 440-foot nail in the Knights’ coffin. In a third place, Robert caught a routine fly ball in center with a runner on third, then used the cannon attached to his shoulder to fire a perfect throw directly into Yermín Mercedes’ waiting glove, right on the foul line three feet up from home plate. The runner, showing off good baseball acumen, elected not to try for it.

Overall, this was a fun game to watch, even if the outcome wasn’t ideal and the team only picked up seven hits. Mercedes is as bombastic as ever in everything he does. Danny Mendick looked good at the plate and in the field. Robert and Collins gathered two hits each. They were in it until the very end. They did not go gentle into that good night. This is what the future looks like. Luis Robert running, and he. Will. Not. Stop.

Want to know right away when we publish a new article? Type your email address in the box on the right-side bar (or at the bottom, if on a mobile device) and click the “create subscription” button. Our list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time. Also, consider supporting FutureSox on Patreon! You can get early access to special articles and Patreon-only posts, in addition to more benefits you can read about here.

Leave a comment

  • Advertisement:
  • Advertisement:
  • ChicagoNow is full of win

    Welcome to ChicagoNow.

    Meet our bloggers,
    post comments, or
    pitch your blog idea.

  • Recent posts

  • Tags

  • Latest on ChicagoNow

  • Advertisement: