Rays 10, White Sox 5: Ervin Santana no answer for pitching woes

To tie up a loose end on this morning’s post, the pitching rotation is now a five-car pile-up.

Making his White Sox debut, Ervin Santana showed why he went unsigned until February. He became the latest Sox starter to labor before an early exit, giving up seven runs on seven hits, three of them homers. He lasted only 3⅔ innings. throwing just 45 of 88 pitches for strikes.

Santana struggled to find the zone in part because the Rays pummeled his pitches inside it. Of the 17 batted balls he allowed, 10 of them registered above 95 mph. His fastball averaged 90.4 mph, but he also gave up two homers on his slider. Throw in just four swinging strikes, and there wasn’t much to like.

The White Sox offense had more moments, but this pitching staff is so riddled with holes that it’s hard for the team as a whole to rise above settling for moral victories.

For instance, the Sox trailed 8-2 entering the bottom of the eighth. The Rays were able to add their eighth run in the top of the inning because Rick Renteria didn’t trust Jose Ruiz against a lefty with two outs and a runner on first, and Caleb Frare fared worse than Ruiz probably would’ve. He gave up a single to lefty Austin Meadows, and the first of two wild pitches brought the run home.

That made the hole even deeper for a lineup that runs out of talent after seven batters. With a runner on first and two outs, the Sox strung together five strong plate appearances:

  1. Yonder Alonso, full-count walk.
  2. Tim Anderson RBI single on a 2-2 pitch.
  3. Welington Castillo, full-count walk.
  4. Eloy Jimenez, RBI infield single on a full count.
  5. Jose Rondon, full-count walk.

Rondon entered for Daniel Palka after Kevin Cash went to lefty flame-thrower Jose Alvarado, which was Renteria’s only good available move. Rondon got ahead 3-0 and resisted swinging at the next three pitches to make it an 8-5 game.

Problem was, Renteria was one good move short, because he had either Yolmer Sanchez swinging right-handed or Adam Engel pinch-hitting. Renteria chose the latter for the better chance of home run power, I guess, and it could’ve worked had Engel used Rondon’s strategy. After taking a first-pitch fastball, he watched the next three out of the zone. Alvarado responded with a sinker in the zone that Engel fouled off, but Engel then swung at the sixth sinker in the dirt for the final out.

But even if Engel extended the inning, Jace Fry showed why it might not have mattered. He’s still having major problems retiring same-sided hitters, as an infield single to one lefty kickstarted a 46-pitch, 27-strike slog that included a bases-loaded walk to another one. He’s faced 14 lefties on the season, and eight of them have reached.

Bullet points:

*This game featured 14 walks, with the White Sox drawing a respectable six.

*Manny Banuelos had the only pitching appearance worth bragging about on the Sox’ side. He threw 3⅓ scoreless, easy innings in relief of Santana, which the Sox might have to keep in mind for future fifth-starter openings down the line.

*Yoan Moncada had the lone highlight off Charlie Morton, a majestic two-run blast in the third inning that put him back on track.

*Leury Garcia went 0-for-4, but Anderson singled twice to keep his hitting streak alive at 10 games.

*Jimenez airmailed the cutoff man on a fruitless throw home in the ninth, which is one of those learning experiences, I suppose. The infield had a decent day defensively, so something had to give.

Record: 3-7 | Box score | Highlights


  • Jim Margalus

    Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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karkovice squad

How long into the season before the Sox have a winning streak as long as this losing streak (so far)?


If it doesn’t happen until 5/2, then it may never happen. After the Yankees the Sox have an exceedingly “easy” schedule for two full weeks.

Brett R. Bobysud

It probably wouldn’t have mattered ultimately, but I am the only person who would’ve rather seen Cordell at the plate in the 9th rather than Engel?

Adam Engel, pinch-hitter, should never be a thing in the American League.

As Cirensica

This. I get he could be a defensive replacement, but a pinch-hitter?


If Adam Engel is pinch-hitting for you, you don’t belong in the major leagues.


Banuelos looks like a viable #1 on this team


Sorry Palka lost his chance (however remote) for a game-tying slam…. Would’ve salvaged a bit of his 2018 charisma….


Gonna wear out that bad-bullpen tag this year.

karkovice squad

Might need a new Single Serving Eloy or Eloy Serving Singles tag.


Ill take Eloy singles hitter over Chris ‘Palka’ Davis based problems for now.

I always have to remind myself baseball is freaking hard. It looks like hes trying really hard to not try and do too much. If that makes sense.


Starting pitching – not good. 

For fun, though, can you guess what Carlos Rodon’s WAR is through three starts per Fangraphs?  I believe Trout leads the league with 1.2 WAR, Sale is -0.4 at the moment and Jon Lester 0.1 for some perspective. 


0.7. Pretty good for 3 starts. Still this team the last few games sucks. The offense gets close enough to make it a game just to see the bullpen screw up the game again. It’s frustrating.


Is it? Gee, thanks. 


Blake Snell is 0.3.


Lots of Ks for Rodon. Kind of shows WAR can be deceiving.

karkovice squad

Sox defense has been atrocious for him. .3 WAR by runs allowed. Still an above average season pace for 20+ starts.


Are there any more thoughts on how Santana looked? I figure this is extended spring training for him so wouldn’t expect great results. But wondering how much can be gauged from this outing and what can be expected of him this season.


I think Stone said it best. He was just missing his spot with his fastball all day. But instead of missing it out of the zone for a ball, he was missing it into the middle of the zone, which the Rays smacked for base hits.


Literally no idea how to find the second game of the Charlotte doubleheader on the new MILB app (which is awful).

Anyone know?

Right Size Wrong Shape

I tried to listen to the radio call and just got generic ESPN programming.


Can this team win more than 62 games with this pitching?


I think it’s time to move on from Coop. He isn’t fixing anything anymore. But in Jerry’s world, that will never happen.

Torpedo Jones

I’m ready to move on from Coop, but does he get credit for the success of guys like Kahnle and Swarzek? Not as high profile as Sale and Quintana but he may still have value with relievers.

karkovice squad

That’s so little value compared to breaking Samardzija, Giolito needing outside help to make progress, and Lopez needing an overhaul Coop isn’t equipped to provide.

Also, maybe he should do something about this bullpen.

As Cirensica

Say what you will but James Shields could pitch as bad as this bunch, but at least, he managed to give us 5 or 6 innings. The starters as currently, are taxing the pen, and Renteria will need to use Colome and Herrera in losing situations, more often than not. This cannot go on for the whole season.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Yeah, but we already knew for sure that he was bad. They need to keep cycling through the probably bad this year to see if any of them are actually good. Maybe Banuelos? One of guys in AAA?

As Cirensica

The key word here is: innings eater. We aren’t competing. Santana and Nova won’t be trade bait nor anchors of any pitching staff on a future (distant) contending team. Hahn only needed to plug in pitchers that could eat innings. Not quality. Ervin Santana has been hurt and he costs us the same as Wade Miley who is probably a lot better than Santana.

Torpedo Jones

I’d always rather have a younger pitcher with any semblance of upside getting the innings (even if it’s a Rule 5 pick who’s not ready as Covey was) than the Santana or Shields route. Failing that, I wouldn’t mind seeing Shields out there at all. He was steady and unspectacular. But steady would be a huge upgrade at this point. It’s just hard to root for this team the way their pitching is going. Losing in a competitive game is one thing. Being way behind early is the worst.

lil jimmy

I am going to put Shields in the same basket as Tyler Flowers. More love in their absence than either got while here.


It’s sad, because the Sox have a history of developing good starting pitching, going all the way back to the late Bill Veeck era. It has been a few years since a solid, dependable starter came from our corps of pitchers (since Sale and Q).


BBref has posted their bWar for 2019 White Sox. So far the White Sox are…. exactly replacement level. 0.6 at the plate/field and -0.6 on the mound. 48 wins here we come!

lil jimmy

Banuelos is one of our five best starters. He seems to have no interest in throwing pitches in the strike zone. Only when necessary. He might be the best off season pickup.
Question for all. Is Santana rusty or finished?

karkovice squad

Probably toast. He’s up 1 mph on avg over last year but still down 3 mph from the last time he was good. I don’t think he can pitch around that given what else he has to work with.

As Cirensica

We had toasts last years too (Shields)…Hahn is stuck in breakfasts items. He needs to move to steak dinner boom transactions


Can Tilson and Cordell be better than Engel and Palka?


Palka is 0 for 23, how many at bats will it take for him to get a hit or sent down?