White Sox’ Hector Santiago sharp, but Mets’ Matt Harvey nearly perfect
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org May 7, 2013 10:56PM
SOX AT METS
The facts: 6:10 p.m., Ch. 26, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.
The starters: Jake Peavy (3-1, 3.38 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hefner (0-3, 4.34).
Updated: June 9, 2013 6:42AM
NEW YORK — It was fun to watch, and heartwarming at that, seeing a New Jersey kid and lifelong Mets fan who grew up 30 miles from Queens pitch against his childhood heroes at Citi Field.
What we also witnessed as White Sox left-hander Hector Santiago, 25, matched Mets prized right-hander Matt Harvey — who took a perfect game into the eighth inning — pitch-for-pitch on Tuesday night was perhaps the first baby steps of a Sox youth movement.
It was only May 7, but if the Sox (13-18) continue to hit with the same ineptitude and continue to perform overall as they have in their first 31 games, veterans will become dispensable, and general manager Rick Hahn will strongly consider trading to add to a farm system that badly needs some building up.
Santiago continued to look like a piece Hahn will keep in his grasp, using his assortment of pitches and throwing seven scoreless innings in the Sox’ 1-0 loss in 10 innings. While Harvey was flirting with a perfect game, the Newark, N.J., native was somehow giving his team a chance to win. He gave up four hits, struck out eight and walked two, retiring 14 of the last 16 Mets he faced.
“We’re going to have to see as we go along,’’ manager Robin Ventura said, not wanting to dismiss Dylan Axelrod — who has pitched well in John Danks’ place in the rotation. “We have pieces moving around as far as when Danks comes back. But you like what you see [from Santiago]. He’s making a case for himself.’’
Santiago, who lowered his ERA to 1.69, made his first start Thursday for Jake Peavy and allowed one run, two hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
With 100 or so friends and family among the 23,394 on hand, most of whom were hoping to see Harvey pull off a perfecto, Santiago had a case of the jitters but settled down after a shaky first go through the Mets’ lineup.
“He was overthrowing,’’ Ventura said. “After that, he settled down, and when he got tired, he was actually even better.’’
“You’re in front of the crowd and they’re yelling, and you just get amped and try to do a little more,’’ Santiago said. “It was kind of surreal. You grow up watching all those guys.’’
Adding to it all was Harvey’s run at perfection. Alex Rios ruined it with an infield single with two outs in the seventh, the only Sox player to reach base. Shortstop Ruben Tejada backhanded Rios’ grounder in the hole and left his feet throwing to first, but Rios barely beat the throw.
Harvey retired 27 of 28 Sox he faced with a career-high 12 K’s.
In the 10th, Mike Baxter singled to right against Nate Jones (0-3, 5.79 ERA), scoring Ike Davis to end it.
On the day veteran starter Gavin Floyd had major surgery on his right elbow, Hahn had to be feeling good about Santiago’s left arm.
“Gavin has been a consistent presence in our rotation since 2008, and we’ll miss him over the rest of the season,’’ Hahn said. “We felt going into the season that the depth of our starting pitching was a real strength, and so far that’s proved very true with Dylan Axelrod and Hector Santiago.’’