It took an unusual relief appearance by Jose Quintana to make it work, but Robin Ventura worked around an abbreviated Francisco Liriano outing on Tuesday to keep his plan intact: Hector Santiago will start tonight in order to give Jake Peavy an extra day.
Ventura had tipped his hand, which allowed us a chance to examine the advantages and disadvantages Santiago had to offer. What we didn't know is just how Santiago's cameo would affect the other pitchers. Ventura's rotation is still more of an assortment at this time, but he did issue a schedule through the rest of the calendar week:
And Sunday is up for grabs between Quintana and Liriano. At the moment, Sale isn't getting an extra day after his 118-pitch start on Monday, so he'll be available to pitch out of the bullpen in Game 162, or start should a playoff game be necessary.
Even though Sale isn't thrown off schedule, it's still a fascinating gamble to start Santiago, if only for the story. He started the year as the closer before sliding down the depth chart and landing in Charlotte. Now he's starting with first place on the line and eight games to go. That's not how anybody drew it up.
We can give Ventura credit for asserting himself in a pressure situation. If he never considered the extra rest and Peavy made an unsuccessful start, the fingers wouldn't be pointing at the manager. Instead, he has an idea of how to give his team the greatest chance to win the rest of the week, and he's pursuing it.
There's just no way to know if this is a good idea, because as much as it makes sense to start Santiago against Cleveland's lefties, it certainly feels like he's trying to get away with a move that's much better suited for June.
Then again, if the offense fails to show up for a ninth straight game, all the pitching machinations in the world will lead to the same dead end. Should Ventura have to endure another 0-for-whatever with runners in scoring position, he might want to start Leyson Septimo or Orlando Hudson to make a point.
Jeff Manto says that he sometimes thinks players rely too much on video to solve problems; that they get caught up studying their mechanics instead of how they react to pitches. That said, a quick in-game consult seemed to keep Dunn from lunging in his last two at-bats on Monday.
Robin Ventura isn't abiding to orthodoxy with late-inning decisions, either, whether it's using Donnie Veal to relieve Matt Thornton in the ninth inning for his first career save, or pinch-hitting Orlando Hudson for A.J. Pierzynski. I'm still not sold that the latter makes baseball sense.
Chris Lamberti takes us on a rollicking ride through a pennant race from yesteryear, including a lot of good context about the South Side's transformation that decade. I won't tell you how it ends, but you probably already know.
- The White Sox helped unveil a mural depicting the contributions of black baseball players in Chicago. | whitesox.com: News
- Congressman Bobby Rush, White Sox and Metra Dedicate New Mural at 35th Street Metra Station - IIT
Speaking of history, there's a big, beautiful mural depicting the history of black baseball in Chicago at the 35th Street Metra station. The White Sox played a part in unveiling it, but you have to go to IIT's site to see a picture (click to enlarge).
Speaking of beautiful, check out the new story long-form story format at SB Nation. R.D. Rosen writes about Al Rosen's experience as a Jewish ballplayer, which includes some anecdotes about him confronting the White Sox.