Tuesday night’s contest is one of those painful times general manager Rick Hahn promised would come.
A rebuild often includes some ugly moments that drive fans mad. Normally, they come in bunches, too.
What can make it even more frustrating is when a familiar face comes back to do some damage. Hector Santiago played that role yet again on Tuesday as he shut down his old teammates, who were looking to bounce back from their worst series of the season after a surprising start.
Santiago and the Minnesota Twins were too much as the White Sox dropped their fourth straight with a 7-2 loss in front of 14,498 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mike Pelfrey took the loss for the White Sox, who dropped to 15-16.
“We’ve got to put everything together,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “We’ve got the energy, but it seems like right now we’re not clicking on all cylinders.”
Pelfrey looked good early against the Twins, the team he pitched for from 2013-15. Making his fourth start of the season for the White Sox, Pelfrey retired the first eight batters he faced and nine of the first 10.
The White Sox took advantage and spotted Pelfrey a 2-0 lead with a pair of RBI singles in the bottom of the third inning. But the lead was gone in an instant as Minnesota rallied for three quick runs in the fourth.
Jorge Polanco led off with a single, stole second and scored on a Max Kepler RBI single. Kennys Vargas then turned around a 92-mph sinker from Pelfrey and deposited it into the right-field bleachers, the two-run shot exiting his bat at 115 mph to give Minnesota a 3-2 lead.
“It’s never good to give up three, but especially after we score two,” Pelfrey said. “I’m pretty disappointed in myself for that. That kills the team. That’s not good.”
“I don’t think we ever gave up in Baltimore and kept fighting and had some close games. That’s a good team, a really good team.
“Tonight, I’ll take the blame for that. These guys gave me a lead and I gave it right back. That can be demoralizing and that’s my fault.”
A replacement for the injured James Shields, Pelfrey’s output began to rapidly slow down. While he recorded two more outs, the right-hander exited with two runners aboard after he walked Kepler in the fifth inning.
Dan Jennings retired Vargas to end the threat.
But it was the third time in four starts that Pelfrey hasn’t completed five innings.
The outing left too much work for a banged up bullpen, which is missing Nate Jones, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka. Jennings, who appeared for the 15th time in 31 games, allowed three earned runs and three hits in 2/3 of an inning as the Twins began to pull away. Minnesota had six hits in seven at-bats to start the top of the sixth against Jennings and Chris Beck, scoring four times to make it 7-2.
That was more than the White Sox offense could match.
For the sixth time in nine games, the White Sox scored fewer than three runs. An offense that appears to be woefully short on on-base percentage has scored three or fewer runs in 17 of its 31 games.
The White Sox appeared to have found the elixir to solve Santiago’s dominance against them. Omar Narvaez walked with one out in the third inning and singles by Willy Garcia and Tyler Saladino made it a 1-0 game. Jose Abreu then continued his hot streak with an RBI single to right to make it 2-0.
But Santiago, who entered 4-1 with a 1.40 ERA against his former team, settled down. He worked around three hits and five walks to limit the White Sox to two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.
Were that not enough, the White Sox threw in a pair of outfield errors for good measure on consecutive plays. Avisail Garcia overran the two-run single of Ehire Adrianza in the sixth inning, which allowed the batter to reach second base. Adrianza then scored on Byron Buxton’s RBI single that made it 6-2. Willy Garcia made an error on that one, which allowed Buxton to move into scoring position. He then scored easily on Joe Mauer’s RBI single.
“We couldn’t minimize their damage as they continued to tack on runs and we weren’t able to respond,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s that simple.
“When you’re trying to establish a way of playing the game of baseball, of which they’ve kind of taken hold of it -- we’ll move forward and we can’t get too high or too low. You’re right, this is four in a row. As far as this one, it’s done.”