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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Why I'm Not Furious At Either Ervin Santana Or The Angels For His Crappy Performance Tonight: Orioles 6, Angels 4

Oh, how I yelled fury at Ervin Santana in the first couple of innings of this game; his command was absolute garbage, and he was giving up longballs like batting practice. But by the time the game was over, I had an entirely different view of things.
  1. What else were the Angels gonna do? Matt Palmer was the obvious other choice, but he had been hammered in his last two starts; following his craptacular appearance in Arizona, his most recent and possibly final start with the Angels for a while, Mike Scioscia said
    "If he was making pitches and guys were hitting them, we'd be more concerned," Scioscia said of Palmer, who is 2-1 in his past four starts, despite yielding 18 earned runs in 22 innings. "What's happening is he's not making pitches as consistently as early in the year.

    "Matty's inability to control the count has caught up with him the last few games. He can pitch better than he's shown the last couple starts."

    And indeed, Palmer, used in relief tonight, showed once again that he is capable of pitching well, but it's also worth mentioning that he pitched backwards to many of his opponents. It didn't catch up to him, though, so that was a good thing.
  2. Santana's velocity is back. That's key, because without it, Ervin's a two-pitch pitcher, and meat on the mound. He dialed it up as high as 97, staying around 94-96 on his fastball for the most part (from memory and the stadium radar gun).
  3. Two of the runs against him were unearned thanks to an Erick Aybar error in the first.
The overall point, though, is that for the Angels, it was Palmer or Santana. Even if the good news was that Ervin's velocity was back but his control wasn't, what could they reasonably do? Leave him in AAA for another couple starts while Palmer flailed in the rotation (again)? Pick your poison, and if the Angels knew that Santana's velocity was back (a reasonable assumption), better to take some chances there with a guy who has more upside.

The bullpen did a decent job, pitching scoreless ball for four innings, including a creditable job by Rich Thompson. Had the Angels gotten their act together against the never-before-seen (by them) David Hernandez, the outcome might have been more interesting while the game was in progress. Kendry Morales hit a nice little two-run shot in the sixth to cut the deficit to three, and Vlad made himself useful in the eighth by punching a scoring groundout, but that is not why you have Vlad on the roster. Indeed, I've been wondering for some time now why Vlad hasn't been benched or moved out of the four hole; he's not quite the automatic out Howard Kendrick was, but getting there.

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