San­ti­ago again gives solid ef­fort

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Gary Klein gary. klein@ latimes. com Twit­ter: @ la­timesklein

The An­gels left- han­der gets a no- de­ci­sion af­ter seven strong in­nings.

Hec­tor San­ti­ago was slightly taken aback Sun­day when a spec­ta­tor ran onto the f ield at An­gel Sta­dium and dodged sev­eral se­cu­rity of­fi­cers in the out­field be­fore mak­ing his way to­ward the mound.

“You just stand over there and it’s like, ‘ What is he do­ing? It’s too hot for this,’ ” San­ti­ago said.

Few pitch­ers in the Amer­i­can League have been as hot as San­ti­ago, who con­tin­ued his push to be an All- Star with his per­for­mance in a matchup with Seat­tle Mariners ace Felix Her­nan­dez.

San­ti­ago’s work­day ended well be­fore the An­gels won, 3- 2, when Kole Cal­houn scored from third base on a 10th- in­ning wild pitch by re­liever Tom Wil­helm­sen.

But San­ti­ago, a 27- year- old left­hander, left a ter­rific im­pres­sion.

“There’s no doubt Hec­tor San­ti­ago is an All- Star- cal­iber pitcher this year,” An­gels Man­ager Mike Scios­cia said.

San­ti­ago gave up a run and three hits in seven in­nings. He struck out six bat­ters and low­ered his earned- run av­er­age to 2.58.

He did not f ig­ure in the de­ci­sion, but if he con­tin­ues to pitch the way he has lately, he could make it dif­fi­cult for Kansas City Roy­als Man­ager Ned Yost not to in­clude him on ros­ter for the July 14 All-Star game at Cincinnati.

San­ti­ago said the key to his suc­cess this sea­son was im­proved me­chan­ics.

“Un­der­stand­ing my body, un­der­stand­ing me­chan­ics and just mak­ing ad­just­ments,” he said.

On Sun­day, San­ti­ago re­tired the f irst 10 bat­ters be­fore Franklin Gu­tier­rez sin­gled.

San­ti­ago ap­peared a bit un­nerved af­ter he failed to get a strike call on a pitch that would have struck out Robin­son Cano. In­stead, Cano worked a 10- pitch at­bat for a walk, set­ting the stage for Nel­son Cruz’s dou­ble off the wall in the right- field gap for a 1- 0 lead.

That was all the Mariners could muster against San­ti­ago while the An­gels tried to solve Her­nan­dez, the 2010 Cy Young Award win­ner who has dom­i­nated the An­gels the last two sea­sons.

Her­nan­dez gave up one hit in six score­less in­nings.

“Hec­tor matched him pitch for pitch,” Scios­cia said.

Whether that kind of per­for­mance will be enough to land San­ti­ago on the All- Star team for the first time re­mains to be seen.

“There’s no doubt he’s throw­ing the ball as well as the top 10 pitch- ers in our league … how­ever you want to slice it up,” Scios­cia said. “But the se­lec­tion process is dicey.”

San­ti­ago is 4- 4 but has given up no more than one earned run in nine of his last 14 starts.

Closer Hus­ton Street, who gave up a score- ty­ing home run with two out in the ninth in­ning, said San­ti­ago was wor­thy of All- Star con­sid­er­a­tion “be­cause it’s tough to put up the type of num­bers he’s put up this year.”

The An­gels im­proved to 39- 37 and stayed four games be­hind first- place Hous­ton in the AL West.

On Mon­day, the An­gels open a three- game se­ries with the New York Yan­kees, who swept the An­gels at Yan­kee Sta­dium a few weeks ago.

The An­gels then go on a ninegame trip to Texas, Colorado and Seat­tle be­fore the All- Star break.

San­ti­ago will prob­a­bly make two more starts be­fore the All- Star game.

That’s two more chances to im­press.

Robert Gau­thier Los An­ge­les Times

SEAT­TLE CATCHER Mike Zunino walks off the f ield as Kole Cal­houn, cen­ter, scores the win­ning run for the An­gels in the 10th in­ning on a wild pitch by Tom Wil­helm­sen, left.

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