Hector Santiago is sharp again in 7-0 shutout
Nine hundred feet from Angel Stadium’s home plate, a building has been under construction since the winter. It will be called “The George,” after Anaheim founder George Hanson, and it’ll join an array of newly forged apartment complexes across the Platinum Triangle that encompasses the ballpark.
Recently, a sign has sprouted up in front of The George: “Coming Fall 2017,” it reads.
Over the two weeks that remain until the nonwaiver trade deadline, the Angels must decide whether they can beat that timetable and contend next season or set their sights on 2018. That shall dictate whom they choose to trade. Outcomes such as Friday’s 7-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox may only serve to muddle the decision-making process.
Facing his former team for the second time this season, Hector Santiago threw seven scoreless innings for the second time this season. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia would have left him out for the eighth, and potentially the ninth, if the Angels had not taken so long to score in the latter half of the seventh. He threw 94 pitches, struck out seven and did not walk anyone.
“It’s a combination of really good stuff with command,” Scioscia said. “You didn’t see many mistakes from Hector.”
It was Santiago’s third straight start sans an earned run. His performance has surged, and the Angels can unilaterally choose to retain him through next season. But if they cannot compete next season, why not trade him now, when opposing clubs will presumably pay more in return than at any point to come?
That is the question General Manager Billy Eppler must confront and clarify by Aug. 1. It is also one he will not touch publicly.
Until then, there are baseball games to be played, and the Angels played one of their best of the season Friday night — and their shortest since June 20. They had set a franchise record at 18 straight games that lasted longer than 3 hours. Friday’s was 2 hours 39 minutes.
His success story is similar to that of Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker, another undrafted free agent who emerged at age 27. He will start against the White Sox on Saturday, with his value at perhaps its highest point to date, another man in whom opponents have expressed interest.
The Angels did not torment Gonzalez, but they converted their opportunities. Ji-Man Choi laced a single to center to begin the third inning and endured a combination kick at first base. When Geovany Soto lined out to third, Choi raced back to the bag, where Chicago’s Jose Abreu leaped to secure the throw and kicked him in the face and stepped on his hand on his way down.
Choi stayed in the game and soon scored on a Yunel Escobar single. Escobar soon scored on a Kole Calhoun double. Later, in a protracted bottom half of the seventh, the Angels added five runs against Gonzalez and three White Sox relievers.
The only man to trouble Santiago for most of the night was Adam Eaton, the White Sox right fielder whom the Angels could have had instead of the left-hander.
At the 2013 winter meetings, the Arizona Diamondbacks offered Eaton and left-hander Tyler Skaggs for Mark Trumbo, then the Angels’ homegrown slugger. But the Angels sought two starting pitchers if they were to part with him, and so they engaged the White Sox and orchestrated the three-team trade. Eaton, to date, has been the best player involved in the deal, but Skaggs and Santiago proved a worthy return too.
In his last inning, Santiago yielded two two-out singles, and a poor throw from Daniel Nava in left field allowed those White Sox to take second and third. The Angels had not yet amassed their late rally, so a single would’ve tied the game.
Up stepped Dioner Navarro. Santiago fired a sharp sinker inside, and Navarro popped it up into foul territory.
“I did exactly what I wanted to do,” Santiago said.
The threat was over. The construction could continue.
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