Manager Ozzie Guillen decided rookie southpaw Chris Sale was the best late-inning hurler to guard over Friday's 4-2 advantage with three left-handed hitters scheduled to hit among the Mariners' first four batters.
That particular decision worked, as Sale cruised through the ninth to help the White Sox move within one game of .500. And with the White Sox playoff hopes in a precarious state, at best, official jobs have been supplanted by sheer victories.
"Right now, I don't think we are looking for closer or setup or anything," Guillen said. "We are looking for wins. We will continue to put the best matchups out there."
Guillen made it clear that he holds the utmost confidence in Santos, so much so that he believes the 28-year-old has what it takes to go into Spring Training as the White Sox one and only closer. That job becomes especially easy to decipher if Sale moves to the starting rotation, as expected.
The relative pitching inexperience of the one-time Minor League infielder also factors into Guillen being careful as to how Santos is used.
"Situations have come up where I need to use Sale, because [Santos] is not Mariano [Rivera] or Bobby Jenks," Guillen said. "He's just learning the process to be a closer. I think this kid, he learned it pretty fast and he earned it. He should be the closer here."
"Really, it's kind of a tough thing to explain," Santos said. "I would love to be the closer, even though I still haven't been given that title. So when they call down and tell me to get ready, I'll get ready and I'll throw. And if we are winning games, I'm happy at the end of the day."
Happiness now doesn't preclude Santos from wanting a more defined role in the future.
"At some point, I would like to know," said Santos, who has fanned 73 over 52 2/3 innings. "Right now, I'm nowhere near an established closer to where I'm the one defined guy.
"To become an established guy, you have to get the majority of opportunities and be successful. I look at every opportunity I get as a chance to establish myself more and more. Hopefully, the more chances I get, the more success I have."