CHICAGO – It’s what you learn in times of trouble that often serves you best.
So it is with Sergio Santos, who can look back at a rough homestand in June and be confident that his rough outing Monday night is no more than a bump in the road.
A day after he blew a save against the Royals on Monday by giving up a home run, putting two runners aboard and getting two of his three outs at the warning track, Santos was already applying some lessons he learned from earlier this season.
During a stretch of home games from June 8-12, Santos struggled like he never has as a major-league pitcher. He gave up three runs in a loss to Seattle on June 8 and then two days later he got a blown save and another loss by giving up four runs to the A’s.
Then on June 12, he put three runners aboard, with one coming around to score, while eventually earning the save.
Much-needed downtime followed when the White Sox were without a save situation. Santos had one outing in a non-save situation at Arizona on June 19, then two days later started to look like a confident closer again.
“I’ll tell you what that Oakland series, in hindsight now, and when I was going through it, it was one of the toughest times I’ve had all season,” Santos said. “But now that I think about it I think I learned more in that homestand than I think I have in a year and a half of pitching in the big leagues.
“It’s because when you get put on that stage and you force yourself to say ‘What can I take from this? What can I learn from this? Let me slow things down. I’m still in control.’ You learn a little about yourself and you learn a little about the type of pitcher you are.”
Santos admitted that he was panicked at the time and rushed himself. Manager Ozzie Guillen told his pitcher to slow down, to no avail.
Santos knows what he has to do now in the wake of Monday’s outing. Being more deliberate will help, but some rest might do the trick too.
Asked if three saves in three days last week took a physical toll, Santos wouldn’t admit it. But he didn’t say it wasn’t an issue either.
“I will never make an excuse,” Santos said. “Even if my arm is ready to fall off I would never say ‘Look, I’m tired.’ That’s not the way I’m built. No excuses. I felt good. My [velocity] was good, my slider felt good so I don’t think that had any effect on blowing that save or having them tie the game [Monday].”