Instead, it was Santiago who took the slow walk back to the dugout alone, unable to protect a four-run lead handed to him in the top half of the inning. The Los Angeles Angels would chase Santiago with three runs in the fourth, take the lead with two more in the fifth and eventually hold on to win 12-9, ending Chicago's season-long four-game winning streak.
"I was trying to make stuff happen when I didn't need to," the 25-year-old left-hander said. "That one inning I just tried to keep my pitch count down."
Santiago had walked a tightrope in the third, surrendering a walk, a single and a hit batter. He escaped the inning unscathed, but his pitch count had ballooned into the 60s. Santiago made note of that as he prepared to pitch the fourth.
"I never go out there and worry about my pitch count," he said. "If I go five [innings], or I go seven, it doesn't matter. I was trying to make better pitches than I needed to."
He began the inning by giving up a long home run to Mark Trumbo on an 0-and-2 pitch. He got Howie Kendrick to fly out, gave up a single to Alberto Callaspo, and then the wheels came off. He walked three straight batters with a wild pitch mixed in between, allowing the Angels to cut the deficit in half.
"He was trying too hard to get out of the inning, and he started missing with some of his pitches," catcher Hector Gimenez, whose career-high four-hit game was spoiled by the loss, said. "I was trying to make him calm down, but I didn’t do it."
Santiago said he noticed his cutter had dropped in velocity from about 89 mph earlier in the game to 84 to 87 in the third and fourth.
"The first couple innings I felt like I was letting it go and it was moving to where I wanted it to be," he said. "That third inning, where I got into trouble, I tried to place it and make it move a little. When I came back out [for the fourth], it seemed like it was moving different than the last innings."
Santiago's setback could put a damper on his bid to remain in the starting rotation. Left-hander John Danks is close to returning from offseason shoulder surgery, meaning the White Sox will likely need to make room in the rotation as early as next week.
In his second start, Santiago went toe-to-toe with New York Mets ace Matt Harvey before the White Sox ultimately lost 1-0 in the bottom of the 10th. He took a step back in his last start before Saturday, giving up three earned runs and six hits in 5⅔ innings of a 10-3 loss Monday against the Minnesota Twins.