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Santiago battling to minimize pitch counts

BALTIMORE -- White Sox lefty Hector Santiago has heard some criticism this season.

After allowing a career-high five walks against the Red Sox on Aug. 30, pitching coach Don Cooper took him to task in the media, saying the New Jersey native had a bad outing and issued too many walks.

Santiago shook off the criticism Saturday against the Orioles and kept the White Sox in the game, despite struggling with a high pitch count. Santiago did not get a decision after allowing two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and two walks over five innings.

The White Sox have the worst winning percentage on the road of any Major League team at .320 (24-51), but Santiago has thrived in opposing ballparks. He has held hitters to a .217 average on the road, which ranks sixth in the American League for pitchers with at least 130 innings.

"It's been the same story all year," Santiago said. "It's like the first two innings are like high, and then I kind of have some decent innings that can get me deeper in the game. But those first two innings end up killing me right there. Fifty-plus pitches, and some of them I felt like were good pitches, but just in the wrong times. It was like, other situations, better counts, you might get someone to chase that right there."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura appeared frustrated that Santiago was not able to throw more innings. Still, he has seen some promise with the 25-year-old.

"He's been better," Ventura said. "He just found himself in a high pitch count early. He's going to have to locate and get through it a little bit easier. You start using that much to get through five, he's not going to be in there that long."

Santiago is 4-8 with 3.44 ERA in 33 appearances (21 as a starter) this season.

Todd Karpovich is a contributor to
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