Angels' Hector Santiago is sharp against Rangers

Angels' Hector Santiago is sharp against Rangers
Angels starter Hector Santiago delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Texas Rangers. (Tom Pennington / Getty Images)

There are a slew of mechanical adjustments a pitcher can make to iron out his delivery, from the rotation of his hips to the placement of his hands to the length of his stride toward the plate.

Shaving a three-inch-wide stripe from the front to the back of your head is generally not one of them, but that was the extreme measure Angels left-hander Hector Santiago took before facing the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.

"It's a reverse mohawk," Santiago said proudly as he removed his cap after the Angels' 10-2 victory in Globe Life Park. "Every time I went to touch my hat, I couldn't take it off, so I just thought, 'Stay in my lane.'

"For me, it's about trying to drive everything through the zone, instead of getting balls running in and out, those crazy pitches that you don't know where they're going. So just stay in your lane."


Whether it was the proper alignment from his haircut or a feeling of comfort he has here, the sometimes-erratic Santiago was extremely sharp Wednesday, giving up one run and four hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking two to improve to 4-0 with a 2.15 earned-run average in five starts at Globe Life Park.

Santiago threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of 27 batters and escaped a runner-on-third, one-out jam in the second by getting Adam Rosales to pop out to the catcher and Leonys Martin to fly to center.

His only blemish was a solo homer he yielded to Carlos Corporan in the fifth, but by then, the game was all but decided, the Angels breaking out for a season-high 13 hits and scoring as many runs in the second inning — six — as they had in any of their first eight games.

Johnny Giavotella split the left-center field gap with a bases-loaded, two-run single, and Matt Joyce hit a two-run double to left-center to highlight the second-inning outburst, as the Angels won two of three games in the series.

The two through five hitters — Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Joyce and David Freese — combined to go nine for 16 with five runs and seven runs batted in.

That was plenty of support for Santiago, who did not allow more than one baserunner in any of his seven innings.

"It was a great start for Hector," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "When he gets into the zone, his stuff plays well, and when he gets into trouble, he gets behind in counts and gives guys too many good looks. Those guys can swing the bats, but today, he made some terrific pitches."

Santiago hatched the idea for the reverse mohawk Sunday after the Angels were swept by Kansas City. Santiago had a so-so start against the Royals on Friday night, giving up three runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 4-2 loss, and the Angels were blown out, 9-2, on Sunday.

"Trouty and I were talking after we got swept and said, 'Man, we have to change it up,' " Santiago said. "And I was like, 'I'm going to change it up. I'm going to do something different. I'm going to do a reverse mohawk.' They're like, 'No you won't.' And I said, 'You guys must not know me; I will definitely do it.' "

Santiago once drove home from a spring-training game in his uniform and jumped into his pool with the uniform on in hopes of washing away a brutal start, so a reverse mohawk wasn't a radical hairstyle for him.

But it was short-lived. Santiago shaved his head for the team's trip to Houston.

"Travel day," Santiago said. "Have to represent the team the right way."

Twitter: @MikeDiGiovanna