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Banuelos grounds Birds again en route to win

@scottmerkin
April 30, 2019

CHICAGO -- Manny Bañuelos has shown an ability to handle the Orioles. The veteran left-hander has made two starts against Baltimore during the 2019 season, which includes Monday’s winning effort in a 5-3 White Sox victory, and has allowed just two earned runs total in 9 2/3 innings. Both of

CHICAGO -- Manny Bañuelos has shown an ability to handle the Orioles.

The veteran left-hander has made two starts against Baltimore during the 2019 season, which includes Monday’s winning effort in a 5-3 White Sox victory, and has allowed just two earned runs total in 9 2/3 innings. Both of those starts actually have come in the past week when Banuelos transitioned from a long-relief role, but the 28-year-old, one-time top prospect of the Yankees will have a chance to face other teams besides the last-place squad in the American League East, as he has been added to the South Siders’ rotation for the foreseeable future -- a spot where he resided during Cactus League action this past Spring Training.

“That helped me a lot, being a starter the whole Spring Training, pitching every fifth day,” said Banuelos, who threw 58 of his career-high 93 pitches for strikes in a third straight win for the White Sox. “I think that made it a little bit easier now to get into the rotation.

“I feel very comfortable. I started coming from the bullpen, but I was always coming out as a long reliever. So, it was around 60 pitches, and it didn't take me that long to get into the rotation, that role.”

Banuelos' job change came when the White Sox designated Ervin Santana for assignment. Santana declared for free agency in lieu of accepting an outright assignment to Triple-A Charlotte, and this move relieves the White Sox of any future financial obligation to Santana. He was due to earn $4.3 million this season as part of the Major League squad.

In 5 2/3 innings Monday, Banuelos struck out six and walked three. His greatest challenge came in the fifth when he had runners on second and third with nobody out after Yoan Moncada and Jose Rondon each made throwing errors on a potential double-play grounder from Rio Ruiz.

But the southpaw struck out Richie Martin and induced a Jonathan Villar lineout to Moncada at third. After issuing a two-out walk to Joey Rickard to load the bases, Renato Nunez flew out to right fielder Ryan Cordell, allowing Banuelos to escape unscathed.

“These guys do very well. There are times when they make a great play for me,” Banuelos said. “When that happens, they don't want to do that stuff. As soon as I saw that I said, ‘Let's go.’ I can’t lose focus. I just wanted to get out [of] there without any runs.”

“He was really good. It felt like he had all his pitches working. He battled,” said White Sox designated hitter Yonder Alonso, whose two-run homer -- along with another two-run dinger from Tim Anderson -- provided Chicago’s primary run support. “He gets ahead of guys, he's around the zone. Just a fun guy to watch and a fun guy to watch develop, as well. Every start it looks like he gets better and better.”

Members of Banuelos’ family were in attendance cheering on Manny. They should get a chance to see him pitch again this weekend at home against Boston with Banuelos staying in the rotation -- even with Lucas Giolito's impending return -- following his first win as a starter since July 7, 2015.

“I'm really proud and thankful for God. He gave me the opportunity to come back here,” Banuelos said. “Now I feel really good and healthy. It's a lot different now than when I came up the first time. I was kind of hurt. Now I feel healthy and enjoy the game and doing my best."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.