Los Angeles Times
Santiago likes living on edge
Angels complete their first four- game sweep of the Red Sox at home.
Hector Santiago must be some kind of thrill- seeker or adrenaline junkie. Sure, it would be less stressful for the Angels left- hander to mix in a few more one- twothree innings, but where’s the fun in that?
“I definitely feel like I can find another gear with runners on,” Santiago said after pitching the Angels to an 11- 1 win over the Boston Red Sox in the first game of Monday’s doubleheader.
Andrew Heaney followed Santiago with a seven- inning, two- run, five- hit gem, and Albert Pujols homered twice in a 7- 3 win in the second game to complete the Angels’ third- ever fourgame sweep of the Red Sox and first athome. Pujols also
had a solo homer in the second inning of the first game.
The Angels have won 15 of 18 games, a stretch in which they’ve outscored opponents, 101- 44, to open a twogame lead over Houston in the American League West.
“That adrenaline you get with guys on base makes you want to rear back and get some more,” Santiago continued. “I think the pressure of having guys on actually gives it to you. You get up for those situations.”
Santiago, who gave up one run and eight hits and matched a career high with 10 strikeouts, has had plenty of practice this season, holding opponents to a .153 average ( 11for 72) with runners in scoring position and .190 mark ( 28 for 147) with men on base.
Major leaguers are hitting .254 with runners in scoring position this season and .261 with men on base.
Santiago set the tone Monday by striking out David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez with two on to end the first inning.
The Angels scored seven runs in a span of eight pitches off rookie left- hander Eduardo Rodriguez in the second, with Johnny Giavotella ( two- run single) and Kole Calhoun ( two- run home run) providing the big blows, and when the Red Sox threatened to get back into the game in the fourth, Santiago applied a chokehold.
Three singles plated a run, snapping Boston’s 21- inning scoreless streak in the series, and the Red Sox had the bases loaded with one out when Santiago struck out Ryan Hanigan and Mookie Betts.
“Honestly, sometimes I tell people, or myself, ‘ The guy on second is not scoring,’ ” Santiago said. “No outs, one out, two outs, it doesn’t matter. I told Prince Fielder one time after he hit a leadoff double, ‘ You’re not gonna score.’ I know I can get guys out in those situations.”
A 7- 4 record and 2.30 earned- run average, thirdbest in the league, 108 strikeouts and just 35walks in113 1⁄ 3 innings, and his first All- Star selection has given Santiago the confidence to pitch out of jams.
But the Angels would prefer Santiago give his high- wire act a rest. He needed 31 pitches to complete the first inning Monday and had 90 pitches through four, giving the Red Sox plenty of chances to measure him.
He finished with 114 pitches, 77 for strikes, but all eight of the hits he gave up were singles, and he walked only one.
“The law of averages says that, ‘ Hey, he’s getting out of some trouble and pitching well,’ and hopefully it will continue,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “Our goal with Hector is for him to stay a step ahead of trouble and avert it. When guys get on, he has the ability to get the strikeout, the popup, and that helps.”
Monday was an aberration for Santiago, who has been more pitch- efficient and working ahead in the count more often this season than he did last season. He attributed some of Monday’s struggles to the fact that, because of the All- Star break, he was pitching for the first time in10 days.
“It was almost like I was trying to figure out how to pitch again,” said Santiago, who has given up one or fewer earned runs in12 of his last 17 starts. “Nine, 10 days off, yeah, it’s good to get a little rest for my arm, but itwas tough to get that rhythm back, of going pitch to pitch and getting back to that fast pace.”