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MINNESOTA 10, ANGELS 1

Another poor start for Angels' Ervin Santana

He falls to 3-6 after giving up six runs and six hits in 32/3 innings of Angels' 10-1 loss to the Twins.

July 27, 2009|BEN BOLCH

Not to do J.P. Ricciardi's homework for him, but the Toronto General Manager might want to casually drop some of these tidbits in any last-minute trade discussions with the Angels involving Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay:

Jered Weaver has a 6.92 earned-run average in his last seven starts. Joe Saunders has two victories since late May. Ervin Santana no longer has an overpowering fastball and hardly resembles the pitcher who won 16 games last year.

If the trends hold up and the Angels fail to complete a deal for a front-line starter, they could begin the playoffs with little hope to win games not started by John Lackey. If their suspect starting pitching allows them to make the postseason, that is.

Santana's season-long struggles continued Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium, with the right-hander failing to survive the fourth inning during the Angels' 10-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

The Angels have won 12 of their last 14 games largely in spite of their starting pitching, with the offense averaging 6.9 runs. That offense dried up Sunday, with the Angels generating only five hits and going 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

"We just couldn't do enough to pressure them," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "It wasn't the grind-it-out games that we've been seeing and we weren't able to do much offensively."

That wasn't a problem for Minnesota. Justin Morneau homered twice and the Twins scored four runs with two out in the fourth inning to end the Angels' season-high winning streak at eight games.

Denard Span's two-run bloop single to left-center in the fourth was the knockout blow against Santana, who dropped his teammates into a 6-0 hole from which they couldn't recover.

Santana (3-6) gave up six hits and six runs in 3 2/3 innings. He has been especially wretched at home this season, going 0-4 with a 12.38 ERA.

Morneau's first homer, a two-run shot in the first inning, got things off to a bad start for Santana. But he retired the next eight batters and had a chance to escape a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth when Carlos Gomez hit a potential double-play comebacker. Santana couldn't field the ball cleanly, however, and had to settle for an out at home plate.

Nick Punto then hit a two-run single past diving shortstop Erick Aybar to make it 4-0. After Santana walked No. 9 hitter Alexi Casilla on four pitches, Span drove in two more runs and the rout was on.

"I made good pitches and they just hit bloopers or ground balls for base hits," Santana said.

Anthony Swarzak (3-3) held the Angels mostly in check for 6 2/3 innings, giving up only Kendry Morales' 18th homer, a solo shot in the fourth.

Santana has struggled to find consistency during an injury-marred season. He has made two trips to the disabled list because of arm issues and his fastball now tops out in the low to mid-90s.

"I don't think it's velocity," catcher Mike Napoli said. "He can get people out throwing 91, 92 [mph]. I wish he was throwing 97 like he was last year, but I just feel like he was unlucky today."

Santana is hardly the Angels' only starter having a bad season. Weaver has been erratic recently and Saunders, who starts tonight when the Angels open a three-game series against Cleveland, has failed to pitch more than six innings in any of his four starts this month.

"These guys, we know what they can do," Scioscia said of his beleaguered starters. "They don't have to become supermen, they just need to pitch the way they're capable of doing."

--

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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