Ervin Santana has been an enigma all season. The velocity, the movement, the ability seems to have been there all year. Yet he entered tonight's game with Tampa Bay with an ERA over seven, struggling to find any type of consistency. He looked like Santana v2.008 tonight, simply dominating Tampa. Santana held the Rays to three hits, just five baserunners, struck out six, and completed nine innings in fewer than 100 pitches to earn his fifth win of the season. Coupled with the Rangers' loss in Cleveland, the Angels all but wiped out the weekend series, and pushed their AL West lead to five games.
Almost more surprising than Santana's performance was the Angels offense. Not the six runs so much as how they got them home. All six of the Angels' runs came with two outs, and five of them were driven in by Reggie Willits (2) and Jeff Mathis (3), both of whom are hitting under .220.
David Price took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Juan Rivera led off with a single. With two out, Mathis delivered a base hit, but both runners took an extra base on an error by left fielder Carl Crawford. With two outs and two strikes, Willits delivered a two run single, advancing to second on the play at the plate. He was subsequently singled home by Chone Figgins.
An inning later, the Angels loaded the bases with singles from Vladimir Guerrero, Kendry Morales, and Howie Kendrick. Jeff Mathis then delivered a rocket of a double over the head of Crawford. All three runners scored, breaking the game open to 6-0, and the Angels never looked back.
Thoughts on the game:
- The Angels were quiet at the trade deadline, but the resurgence of Ervin Santana and Vlad Guerrero could be bigger than any acquisitions the Angels could have made. When Santana is on his game, he's one of the best pitchers in the AL. Vlad, meanwhile, has hits in ten straight games, including two more tonight.
- Vlad's two hits put him over .300 for the season. That means that the top six hitters in the Angels lineup, after tonight's game, are all hitting over .300. Howie Kendrick sits at .270, and Napoli, who is the top starting catcher on the team, is hitting near .300. This is really an incredibly fun offense to watch.
- Santana's effort meant the Angels didn't need to use the bullpen, but if they had, one guy we would not have seen is Justin Speier. The Angels gave him his unconditional release today with a season and a half remaining on his contract. It's sad, really. Speier's first season was excellent, but after last year's illness, he was never really the same.