Santiago creates win streak for Sox in 4-2 victory over A’s
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org June 9, 2013 10:31PM
Updated: June 9, 2013 11:29PM
Hector Santiago’s short career with the White Sox has been about adapting.
As he has gone from closer to reliever to starter and back, the left-hander’s versatility is what allowed him to stick on the roster when lefty John Danks returned from the disabled list.
‘‘We’ve known he’s valuable,’’ manager Robin Ventura said Sunday as Santiago led the way in a 4-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics. ‘‘I think you saw his transformation last year. He’s a major-league pitcher, and you’ve got to figure out a way to use him.’’
His role now is to be the replacement for injured Jake Peavy, and he filled that role with authority in a victory that meant a split of a four-game series and a modest two-game winning streak for the Sox.
‘‘Anything we win in a row is good,’’ said Santiago, who limited the American League West-leading A’s to four hits and one earned run — Coco Crisp’s solo home run — through 6 1/3 innings.
‘‘You’re playing a first-place team, a tough team, and we’ve had a hard time with them,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘They grind. They make you throw a lot of pitches. For [Santiago], I’d say ‘energetic’ is a good word for him. He’s hyper out there.
‘‘Hector was able to stay with it. It’s just a credit to him.’’
A solid pitching performance for a second straight day and a decent all-around effort were enough to lift spirits in the wake of the Sox losing 10 of their previous 12.
‘‘You hope at some point it goes as good as it’s gone bad,’’ captain Paul Konerko said. ‘‘The at-bats have been good, and it’s starting to turn. But we really have to keep our heads down and keep grinding. That’s the way you fight back.
‘‘We’re starting to do some things out there, but it’s two games. We’re not out of the woods yet, but it definitely is a step in the right direction.’’
Santiago (2-4) set a tone, battling through the first four innings when the A’s had men on base. Crisp’s homer came with one out in the third.
‘‘The first and second inning, it felt like a grind and you have to battle through it,’’ Santiago said. ‘‘After that, you kind of settle in and go after guys and have them put the ball in play and get outs.’’
The Sox’ defense was sound, with the only other A’s tally an unearned run in the seventh when reliever Matt Thornton threw badly to first on a pick-off attempt. That allowed Josh Reddick to score from third.
‘‘It’s one of those things that can happen,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘But that’s the way baseball is, and you have to pick yourself up.’’
The Sox had enough offense — with home runs from Tyler Flowers and Alex Rios and a two-run fourth inning off starter A. J. Griffin (5-5) — to support Santiago and the four relievers behind him.
‘‘I think our starting pitching for the most part has been good all year,’’ second baseman Gordon Beckham said. ‘‘Without them, we’d still be losing games. We scored four today, but we need to find a way to score more runs or it’s going to be tiring on the pitching staff.’’
Doing more in every facet is the key to resolving their still-precarious state, but Ventura sees a start.
‘‘It doesn’t take much to turn the momentum that was going bad to good,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ve got guys who are still motivated and prepared and ready to go. That’s the thing in baseball — you can get just as hot as you can cold. Team’s go on winning streaks, too. For as cold as you can get, you can get just as hot.’’