Walks suck. Walks suck. Walks suck.
The White Sox hadn't lost a series since losing three out of four to the Minnesota Twins in the August 9-11th series. At 11-4 over their last 15 games, the white hot White Sox looked poised to continue to play spoiler as they went to Boston to face the first-place Red Sox. Well, not so much.
Starting with Hector Santiago on Friday evening, the control from White Sox hurlers was the issue. Just calling them "wild" over the weekend probably doesn't do it much justice.
Screwgie walked four hitters and plunked another one, as he was only able to go 3.2 innings before handing it over to the bullpen. David Purcey, who pitched a couple of innings later in the ball game walked two more hitters and added a wild pitch.
On Saturday, John Danks only issued one free pass, but Jake Petricka yielded two in his appearance and added a wild pitch.
And on Sunday, Andre Rienzo struggled mightily with his control as he has at times before, walking four Carmines in his 3.0 innings of work. Charlie Leesman then came in for his first MLB relief appearance and walked another four in his 4.1 innings. An inefficiency with their pitches has always been a bugaboo for these two. At least Leesman bunched three of them together with nobody on and two men out and was able to escape … I suppose.
Pair all of that (18 free passes) with a couple of errors and an unfortunate call by the third base umpire that may have in part cost the team Sunday's game (and got manager Robin Ventura ejected), and you've got yourself three losses.
In the words of the great Frank Thomas on Comcast SportsNet Chicago's post-game show, "that's the difference between a first place team and a last place team." The Red Sox pride themselves on being smart, selective hitters, and the White Sox gave them an easy way to do that by not getting the ball over the plate.
On a positive note, Avi Garcia and Dayan Viciedo continued to hit the ball well and it may have been Santiago's worst start of the year when you really put it into perspective.
But like we mentioned, this is just a problem that Rienzo and Leesman have always dealt with. Throughout this last month, a major point of focus will be Santiago's control. As pitching coach Don Cooper said, "Walks suck. Walks suck. Walks suck."
Santiago really has not been hit hard at all by his opponents. They're only hitting .236 against him in total. But he's walking just about one hitter every two innings, which is way too high a total, especially considering how high his ceiling is. We really 'oughta hope the walks don't mar his future.
But hey, I'm probably just being a bit pessimistic after a sweep when I really shouldn't be. The kid is 25 years old and for the most part, finding great success.
The White Sox have eight more series before the 2013 regular season comes to a close, seven of which are against contenders. So while the opponents aren't going to get easier, the opportunity to play spoiler won't disappear.
Hopefully the south siders take advantage.