The Red Sox will look to salvage the final game of the series against the White Sox behind the undefeated Clay Buchholz. He’ll be opposed by left-hander Hector Santiago.
There’s not a lot to say about Buchholz that hasn’t already been said. He’s been incredibly consistent through his nine starts, allowing more than two earned runs only once and going seven innings or more in eight outings. He comes into his 10th start of the year with the lowest ERA in the American League at 1.78 and a 6-0 record, though Buchholz has gone winless in his last three starts. He gave up two earned runs on four hits and three walks in his last outing against the Twins, going seven innings and fanning nine. The Red Sox couldn’t push across the go-ahead run until the top of the 10th inning, earning Buchholz his third no-decision in as many starts.
But Buchholz is far from frustrated about failing to pick up wins despite delivering dominant pitching performances. “Team wins. That’s what this game’s about. There’s absolutely no disappointment,” the righty said after his last start. The Sox have won all but one game that Buchholz has started in 2013.
Buchholz hasn’t had a lot of success when facing the White Sox over the course of his career, entering the game with a 1-2 record and 5.02 ERA in five games against Chicago. His last outing against the club was a gem, however. Buchholz threw eight innings, allowing only one run on six hits while walking one. Paul Konerko has given Buchholz some trouble in the past, going 6-for-12 against the right-hander with a home run and a double.
White Sox ace Chris Sale was initially slated to take on the Red Sox in the last game of the three-game set, but a case of tendinitis in his left shoulder (his throwing arm) will sideline him. Sale, who is 5-2 with a 2.53 ERA on the year, is expected to miss only one start.
Taking the mound in his place will be Santiago, who will be pitching on only three days rest. Santiago went 3 1/3 innings on Saturday, giving up three runs on four hits and four walks, but had to use 80 pitches to get through the outing. The 25-year-old is relatively new to the White Sox rotation; he made seven relief appearances before getting his first start on May 2. Out of the bullpen, Santiago owned a 2.51 ERA in 14 1/3 innings, while he has pitched to the tune of a 2.95 ERA as a starter in 2013 over 21 1/3 innings.
The Red Sox have only seen Santiago once before, last season in a three-inning relief appearance. In the outing, Santiago allowed two earned runs on two hits and a walk while striking out two. The lefty spent the majority of 2012 pitching in relief for Chicago, with the exception of four starts, all coming in the last month of the season.
With starter John Danks on his way back to the rotation after missing an entire year due to shoulder surgery, Santiago’s outing will serve as an audition of sorts to determine whether he will stay in the rotation or be sent to the minors or back to the bullpen. His last appearance didn’t make the decision any easier for the White Sox. But Santiago said that the increased pressure didn’t affect his performance. “That doesn’t go through my mind at all,” the starter said after Saturday’s game, his second subpar outing in a row. “I just didn’t get it done today.”
The Red Sox may have caught a break by missing Sale this time around, but the lesser-known members of the White Sox rotation have given the Boston offense quite a bit of trouble. They scored two runs off of Monday night’s starter, Dylan Axelrod, managing only four hits through his six innings. Jose Quintana was even more dominant on Tuesday, going six and a third without allowing a hit. The lefty would allow three singles before exiting, but the Red Sox have been unable to score a run off of Quintana in his two career starts against them.
The Red Sox will see five pitches from Santiago: a fastball in the low-to-mid-90s, a cutter in the low 80s, a changeup, a curveball and Santiago’s most interesting offering, a screwball. He employs the screwball only a fraction of the time, but right-handed-heavy lineups are more likely to see the pitch. Santiago says he uses the screwball, which breaks from right to left across the plate, as a way to catch hitters off guard and “get the big drop of velocity and spin on them.” The Chicago starter is one of the few, if not the only, major league pitcher to still use a screwball with any regularity.
Red Sox vs. Santiago (LHP)
Pedro Ciriaco (2 plate appearances): .000 BA/.000 OBP/.000 SLG
Jacoby Ellsbury (1): .000/.000/.000
Will Middlebrooks (1): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Mike Napoli (1): .000/.000/.000
Daniel Nava (1): .000/.000/.000
Mike Carp, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Lavarnway, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Shane Victorino have not faced Santiago.
White Sox vs. Buchholz (RHP)
Alex Rios (16): .154/.188/.231, 1 double, 2 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Paul Konerko (14): .500/.571/.833, 1 double, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 walk, 3 strikeouts
Alexei Ramirez (13): .250/.231/.250, 1 RBI, 4 strikeouts
Jeff Keppinger (12): .273/.333/.636, 1 double, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 strikeout
Alejandro De Aza (5): .200/.200/.400, 1 double, 2 strikeouts
Adam Dunn (4): .000/.250/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Dayan Viciedo (3): .000/.000/.000
Tyler Flowers, Conor Gillaspie, Hector Gimenez, Tyler Greene and Dewayne Wise have not faced Buchholz.