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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

C.G. SHO, Santana: Angels 4, Royals 0

Remember this?

It's been a long while since we started talking about how special Ervin Santana looked when he came into the majors; his minor league record was both overwhelming and inconsistent. He's had a lot more games like his May 17, 2005 debut, a bloodstained splatter of a mess with six earned runs and three walks in only four innings. But his very next game, May 23, was a complete game shutout of the Chisox, won without the help of Frankie or Vlad. K-Rod had just gone on the DL, and Vlad was MIA then, too.

Strangely, those two circumstances applied in today's game, as well, though the DL wasn't directly involved. K-Rod had pitched two consecutive games in the Baltimore series, so while he wasn't technically unavailable, Mike Scioscia would undoubtedly have preferred to have kept him out of it. As for Vlad, his slumping bat isn't really helping matters of late, and one wonders just how long he'll be able to keep up the charade that says he's completely healthy but somehow out of sync.

Another reason for staying the bullpen, of course, is that the Angels have the second-worst relief corps in the AL; only the Rangers have a worse record. Most of that is because of the back of the bullpen, and the fifth starter position:

  Starter         ERA+
Dustin Moseley     53
Chris Bootcheck    29
Rich Thompson      18
Nick Adenhart      19

The quartet of suck

Even Darren O'Day has slipped below average (95 ERA+); it's clear based on Sunday's game that Mike has lost appreciable faith in him.

But let us forget such foibles for the moment. None of them really mattered, because the Angels pulled out a win in regulation, despite having done almost exactly nothing against Brett Tomko — Brett fargin' Tomko with a 6.36 ERA coming into this game, who just stymied the Angels through seven and pitched like Cy Young. This is the chimera every team that signs Tomko chases: the guy whose stuff can mystify batters constantly. And yet, incredibly, and despite the Angels having already faced and beaten him back on April 17, he got a no-decision for a remarkable job. In fact, Tomko has only had 11 games in his career with seven or more shutout innings pitched, his last being a 3-0 loss to the Padres for the Dodgers, Takashi Saito taking the loss.

The worst trouble Santana got into all night was a leadoff double he gave up to Mark Grudzielanek in the fourth, but he then calmly retired the next three batters in order. In fact, he four-hit Kansas City, one better than his 2005 complete game. And just as it was looking like Santana was about to get ripped off, the Angels offense provided him with not one but four runs in the top of the ninth, the first coming off a leadoff triple by Erick Aybar and Casey Kotchman's RBI single to send him to the plate. The next pair of runs came courtesy of Garret Anderson and his long fly, followed up by Brandon Wood and yet another homer, reminding us all of why we're glad Joel Peralta is no longer an Angel. (Just to be clear, the losing pitcher was Ramon Ramirez, who gave up Aybar's triple.)

So, a great and wonderful evening for Santana, who goes 6-0 on the season, and continues his entirely welcome road dominance.

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