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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ervin Santana Blows Rays Away: Angels 6, Rays 0

Was it the news that the Angels were releasing Justin Speier that prompted Ervin Santana to pitch by far the best game of his 2009 season, a complete game shutout in 97 pitches? I have no freaking clue, but dayam was this a much-needed game for a battered and bruised Angels rotation that's about to use their fourth fifth castoff or AAA starter this year, Trevor Bell. (The other three: Matt Palmer, Shane Loux, and Sean O'Sullivan. There is a special ring of Hell for Mr. Andrew Gallo. Update: jjackflash in the comments below reminds me I'm forgetting Anthony Ortega. Make that four others.)

The first four innings were as largely uneventful as they were extraordinary, with both sides' starters facing the minimum in the first three, and only a hit batter (shortstop Maicer Izturis, who got plunked on the elbow and is now listed as day-to-day) between Price and perfection in his first twelve outs.

But then the roof caved in for Price, who's been prone to that sort of thing this year. In the fifth, Kendry Morales, the slow-footed first baseman, somehow managed to stay out of a double play with Juan Rivera at first, hitting instead into a 4-6 fielder's choice. After Howie Kendrick immediately afterwards flied out to right for the second out, it looked like Price was on the verge of another easy inning — except, no. Jeff Mathis unexpectedly whacked a single down the left field line that Carl Crawford misplayed into a double. Reggie Willits — Reggie Willits! — getting the unusual start then did the incredible, and knocked both of them in on an RBI single that left him at second when B.J. Upton threw home and missed. When Chone Figgins knocked him in on an RBI single, you had the feeling that some real magic was heading the Angels' way after a weekend drought.

That magic came right back in the sixth, with yet another two-out rally. With Juan Rivera standing at first, Kendry Morales hit a clean single to right. When Howie Kendrick loaded the bases on another single (with Rivera almost hung out to dry halfway between third and home, belatedly scampering back to the third base bag), Jeff Mathis knocked everyone home on a bases-clearing double down the left field line.

And really, that was the game. It was an amazing rout, considering, with Santana looking like he did last year, convincingly so. It takes nothing away from David Price to say that he just got outlasted here; you could sense the building greatness that he's got, and will have; he is, after all, only 23. The Angels beat him today, but one day, and not too far from now, he'll be scary good. This is a win cheating the future.

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You're forgetting Anthony Ortega. Bell will be the 13th starting pitcher to take the mound for the Halos this year: Lackey, Weaver, Santana, Saunders, Escobar, Oliver, Ortega, Loux, Palmer, O'Sullivan, Moseley, Adenhart (RIP) and now Bell.
Just so. Fixed above.

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