Converted shortstop Sergio Santos is White Sox’s new closer

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Ozzie Guillen has been playing musical relievers after Opening Day closer Matt Thornton blew all four of his early save chances (with the help of some shoddy defense).

Sergio Santos was the latest White Sox reliever to be handed a late-inning lead last night and the converted shortstop closed out a 2-0 win with 1.1 scoreless innings against the Yankees.

He looked good enough converting the four-out save (or the rest of the bullpen has looked bad enough) that afterward Guillen indicated Santos is now at the top of the closer heap.

Thornton hasn’t pitched nearly as poorly as his four blown saves would suggest and he has a long enough track record of excellence as a setup man that sticking with him as closer wouldn’t be a bad move, but giving Santos a shot with ninth-inning duties isn’t a bad idea either.

Santos was the Diamondbacks’ first-round pick in 2002 as a shortstop, but after hitting just .248 with a .699 OPS in more than 3,000 trips to the plate in the minors he moved to the mound in 2009. He cracked the White Sox’s bullpen coming out of spring training last year and has a 2.44 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 63 innings since, averaging 95.7 miles per hour with his fastball and serving up a grand total of just two homers.

Chicago’s bullpen has been ugly early on, but Thornton is a good bet to get back on track and join Santos, Chris Sale, and Jesse Crain in a potentially dominant late-inning quartet.

Dustin Pedroia leaves game with a sprained left wrist

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Bad news for the Red Sox today. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was involved in a collision at first base with Jose Abreu of the White Sox. Pedroia stayed in the game at the time but was replaced by Josh Rutledge in the second.

The injury: sprained left wrist. Which, no, is not good, but there was some initial concern that he may have aggravated the knee which has been bothering him of late. They’ll no doubt provide an update after the game. As of now, the Sox lead the Sox 1-0 in the bottom of the third.

 

Brad Ausmus is not a fan of the Tigers’ schedule

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Everyone in baseball has a tough schedule. The season is a grind. Some teams, however, due to weather and happenstance, have stretches which are a tougher grind than others. The Tigers are in one of those right now.

Detroit played the Astros on Thursday night, and lost in a three-hour and thirty minute contest. It was a getaway day, er, night, and they didn’t get to Chicago to face the White Sox until the wee wee hours of the morning on Friday. Waiting for them: a double header which was to start at 4pm. The first game of it was rained out, though, so they woke up after a short “night’s sleep for nothing. Then the nightcap was delayed over an hour, giving them another late bedtime. On Saturday it was another double header, so it was another early wakeup and another long day at the park. And, of course, another day game on Sunday, before a flight to Kansas City.

This stretch has made Brad Ausmus grumpy. Here he was after Friday night’s late finish:

“Give some credit to the White Sox pitchers, give some credit to the schedule we have. We’ll try to get about 5 hours of sleep and come back tomorrow and play two more.”

He was particularly miffed at the scheduling of two doubleheaders in a row:

“You can’t control the weather but I think it would have been prudent to play the second game tomorrow in August,” he said. “That would have made a lot more sense to me.”

Ausmus did note, however, that it’s not the White Sox’ job to make a schedule that is convenient for their division rivals.

You can look at this in a few different ways. One one level, Ausmus is understandably upset about a particularly arduous stretch of games. On another level he’s probably trying to protect his players, who have looked flat, by changing the subject from their play to the schedule. On a different level, you could say that he’s making excuses for a team that is underachieving. And, of course, those three things are not mutually exclusive.

The thing is, though, that the Tigers have lost seven of ten, are five out of first place, four games under .500 and could conceivably leave their series with the Royals this week in dead last in the Central. Ultimately, extenuating circumstances like the weather and an unfortunate schedule don’t save a manager whose talented and highly-paid team struggles like the Tigers have. If they don’t turn it around soon, Ausmus could be hitting the bricks and the Tigers could be fixing to sell off and rebuild.