Ervin Santana appears to have located his misplaced groove. After several less than spectacular starts, Mike Scioscia decided to put Santana on a 15-out limit for his July 30th start against Texas. The theory was that he’d be able to focus on his mechanics more if he didn’t have to worry about pitch count or taxing the bullpen. Just get fifteen outs. It’s looking like it worked. Since that game, Santana has gone 3-0 with a 3.52 ERA. The Angels have won all five of his starts, and suddenly Santana has become the most reliable pitcher in the starting rotation.
Santana was called on to stop the Angels’ four game slide as they started a three game series against the Boston Red Sox. Both offenses were fairly quiet until the third inning when Mike Trout singled and advanced to second on an errant pick off throw from Red Sox starter Aaron Cook. One out later, Albert Pujols brought him home with a single to center field. The hitting continued in the fourth with Howie Kendrick and Alberto Callaspo both delivering one-out singles. Erick Aybar also singled, scoring Kendrick from second, but he ran himself into the second out of the inning trying to advance to second base on the throw home. Chris Iannetta then hit the fourth consecutive single of the inning, scoring Callaspo from third to give the Angels a 3-0 lead.
The scoring continued in the fifth when Mark Trumbo hit a two-run home run (30) to center field. Jarrod Saltalamacchia answered with a two-run blast in the bottom of the sixth, but that was the only mistake Santana made all night. He finished the night with 6 1/3 innings pitched, two runs allowed and two walks to go along with four strike outs. Jordan Walden struggled again, getting only one out while giving up a run in the sixth. Scott Downs, Kevin Jepsen and Ernesto Frieri continued their lights out play at the back end of the bullpen, combining for the last seven outs of the game and shutting down the Red Sox to preserve the win.
Santana’s outing was a bright spot in what has been a dismal month of August for the starting rotation. Jered Weaver will look to continue the Angels’ winning ways against Clay Buchholz. With the Angels trailing the Rangers by 8 1/2 games and the wild card leaders by four games, they really don’t have much of a choice.
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Baseball Quote of the Day: “Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.” ~George F. Will