Santana struggles, and Angels lose ground to Texas
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Ervin Santana stood in the hallway outside the locker room with the same disinterested expression he wears after wins or losses, calmly insisting his struggles are tough to understand and easy to fix.
Even supportive Angels manager Mike Scioscia might disagree with him after his latest awful start set Los Angeles back in the AL West race.
Mike Napoli homered twice in yet another impressive game against his former team, Yu Darvish struck out 11 over seven strong innings, and the Texas Rangersbattered Santana in a 9-2 victory on Saturday.
Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba and Adrian Beltre homered during Texas’ five-run second inning, chasing Santana (4-10) after just 13 batters. Santana’s early struggles deflated another showdown between the AL West’s top teams after the Angels gained ground on division-leading Texas for the first time since July 5 by winning Friday’s series opener.
Santana gave up eight hits and six runs before leaving the mound to loud boos from the same crowd that watched him throw a one-hitter last month — one of just two wins in his last 11 starts. Texas stretched its AL West lead over Los Angeles back to six games.
“They jumped on every pitch that I threw early, but it happens,” Santana said. “I just have to keep positive and keep pitching. If I knew what was wrong, I’d make an adjustment. I’m just doing the best I can right now. Every bullpen I throw, I’m getting better and better, but I’m not getting good results yet.”
The Angels are 4-15 in starts by the Dominican right-hander, who has yielded 23 homers already this season, capped by Beltre’s 18th in the second inning. Scioscia refused to indicate whether Santana’s rotation spot is in danger, but it’s clear the Angels’ patience with Santana has worn thin.
“We have a lot of confidence in what Ervin can do, and he has shown it at times this year,” Scioscia said. “Just last week, he pitched a terrific game in Detroit to give us a chance to win. This, obviously, was not what we were looking for this afternoon. … There were a lot of pitches he left over the heart of the plate. I think he missed trying to establish his good fastball away to some good right-handed hitters. They’ve got a deep lineup with power all the way through it, and they hit the ball out of the park today. “
Mike Trout had an RBI single and later scored a run in his 13th straight game for the Angels, tying the franchise record and the AL rookie record, but Los Angeles managed just four hits.
Darvish (11-6) had little trouble holding an early seven-run lead in the Japanese All-Star’s first victory of July, yielding three hits and four walks. Staked to a first-inning lead for a change, he avoided the slow starts that have plagued him during a strong rookie season.
Darvish has struck out a career-high 11 four times this season. He set a Rangers rookie record with his sixth double-digit strikeout game, fanning every Angels starter except Alberto Callaspo.
“Some of the problems I’ve been having in the first inning, I paid particular attention to,” Darvish said through a translator. “Beating a very good offensive team like the Angels naturally gives you confidence.”
Napoli, who had three hits in Friday’s series opener, added another homer off reliever David Carpenter in the third.
Although Napoli returned to Anaheim enmeshed in a monthlong slump, the All-Star catcher just won’t stop beating up on the franchise that drafted him and then traded him to Toronto in January 2011 for Vernon Wells.
“When I come here and do well, it definitely feels good inside,” Napoli said.
Napoli has done a bit better than well at the Big A: He has hit safely in 13 of his 14 games here since the trade, with a jaw-dropping eight homers, 12 RBIs and nine multihit games.
“Just catching all these (Angels pitchers), I have an idea of what they like to do, but they’re going to try to attack my weaknesses and mix things up,” Napoli said. “I go in there knowing they’re going to be tough on me. There’s that extra competitive thing against your friends.”
Trout drove in the Angels’ first run in the third inning, and he matched Jim Edmonds’ franchise record from 1995 when he scored on Hunter’s fifth-inning single. Trout is the first AL rookie to score in 13 straight games since Don Lenhardt in 1950 — and he got in scoring position with his 22nd consecutive stolen base.
NOTES: Darvish has double-digit strikeouts in four of his last six starts. … Angels SS Erick Aybar left the game in the eighth inning after bruising his right big toe with a foul ball. … Los Angeles optioned OF Kole Calhoun to the minors after the game to make room for Dan Haren’s return from the DL on Sunday to start the series finale against 12-game winner Matt Harrison.