CHICAGO – Hector Santiago was a 30th-round draft pick by the White Sox in 2006, and he’ll never forget his original team.
“I respect this organization and love them,” Santiago said, “but if I can go out there and beat them every time, that is my goal.”
Santiago continues to dominate his former team after it traded him to the Angels after the 2013 season. On Tuesday, he pitched into the seventh inning for the fourth time in seven starts to help the Twins beat the White Sox 7-2.
While doing so, the Twins knocked out former teammate Mike Pelfrey, who left the game in the fifth inning after surrendering a 2-0 lead. Fielding a lineup without Miguel Sano and Brian Dozier, the Twins forced Pelfrey to throw 95 pitches over 4 ⅔ innings then jumped on Chicago’s bullpen with a four-run six inning.
Pelfrey, known for his candor when he doesn’t pitch well, delivered again after the game.
“These guys gave me a lead, and I gave it right back,” he said. “That can be demoralizing, and that’s my fault.”
The Twins won despite their two most important hitters missing the game. Sano served a one-game suspension for his involvement in a bench-clearing incident with Detroit on April 22. Dozier was not available because his sprained left ankle is not quite healed.
Their timing couldn’t have been worse: Righthanded hitters entered Tuesday batting .333 against Pelfrey, while lefties were hitting .207.
Twins manager Paul Molitor crafted a lineup that included eight lefthanded hitters, including Joe Mauer in the leadoff spot.
“I was kind of questioning my lineup after the first few innings,” Molitor said.
Pelfrey, busting his sinker in on the lefties, retired the first eight batters he faced while throwing three shutout innings.
Santiago retired the first seven White Sox batters he faced, running his scoreless inning streak against them to 15. But RBI singles by Tyler Saladino and Jose Abreu in the third inning gave Chicago a 2-0 lead.
One of Pelfrey’s issues is that he struggles with runners on base. That proved to be true again as Jorge Polanco led off the fourth with a single and stole second. Max Kepler followed with an RBI single. Then Kennys Vargas belted a two-run homer to right that left his bat at 114 miles per hour.
“Once we got the leadoff guy on with Polanco on, and made him pitch out of the stretch, it seemed like we were able to take advantage of that a bit,” Molitor said.
The Twins then put Chicago away with four runs on six hits in the sixth inning. The hits were one shy of their season high for an inning.
Byron Buxton went 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored and pushed his batting average to .188. Mauer and Polanco each added two hits.
The production enabled Santiago to last 6 ⅔ innings, giving up two runs on three hits and five walks while striking out six. He did it to the White Sox again, and was waiting for his phone to blow up with messages from his former teammates. Santiago is 5-1 in seven starts against the White Sox with a 1.59 ERA.
“I’ll have some texts here in a few minutes from those guys,” he said, “saying ‘Stop killing us’ or ‘Stop putting it on us.’ ”