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Santana struggles in White Sox debut; Renteria disappointed with pitching staff

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Ervin Santana throws against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Tuesday, April 9, 2019. | Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Veteran right-hander Ervin Santana didn’t sugarcoat his evaluation of his White Sox debut Tuesday.

‘‘It was not good,’’ Santana said. ‘‘Not at all.’’

Before their 10-5 loss to the Rays at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Sox, as expected, purchased Santana’s contract from Class AAA Charlotte. After signing a minor-league deal during the offseason, Santana had been working his way toward joining the rotation as the Sox’ fifth starter. They didn’t need him until Tuesday, thanks to days off in their schedule.

In his first major-league game since Aug. 16, Santana — who had been recovering from a finger injury — couldn’t get out of the fourth inning. He allowed seven earned runs and seven hits, including three home runs, walked three and struck out one in 3⅔ innings.

Bad start? Yes.

Unfortunately for the Sox, Santana wasn’t their only problem on the mound. Reliever Jace Fry, who was a reliable arm in the bullpen last season, had another rough outing. He yielded two runs, three hits and two walks and needed 46 pitches to work the ninth.

The pitching staff has been manager Rick Renteria’s biggest frustration so far.

‘‘It’s not just Jace,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘We’re having a little bit of trouble commanding the strike zone. . . . When we fall behind a lot, especially in relief, you put yourself in a vulnerable position. These guys are young, but that to me doesn’t matter.

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‘‘It’s not acceptable, and we don’t want it to be something that’s acceptable. We want to make sure they understand that change has to occur. We have to make the adjustments sooner rather than later, so we can put ourselves in a position where we get ourselves [ahead]. Because [it] is tough for an offense every day to be in position where, gosh, we’re trying to battle back.’’

After three quality starts in their first five games, the Sox’ starters have imploded in their last five. Their rotation has a 6.98 ERA, which is the second-worst in the majors.

Meanwhile, their bullpen hasn’t been much better. Sox relievers have a combined 6.39 ERA (27 runs in 38 innings).

‘‘At some point, we have to look ourselves in the mirror and be accountable to our actions [or] lack of, whether they are positive or negative,’’ Renteria said of the staff.

As Sox pitchers struggle with their command and consistency, the offense has stepped up its game. Third baseman Yoan Moncada hit his third home run of the season, a two-run shot to right-center, and shortstop Tim Anderson and left fielder Eloy Jimenez each went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Designated hitter Jose Abreu admitted it can be difficult as a batter to play from behind, but the Sox still have high hopes for their pitchers.

‘‘The pitching staff, they want to do better and they want to give us a chance to win,’’ Abreu said through a translator. ‘‘The same for the offense. When things go wrong, that’s when you need to be together and be strong together.

‘‘We still have high expectations about ourselves for this season. There’s just 10 games [that have been played]. I think we can improve. But in order for us to improve, we need to start playing better.’’