It was Matt Shoemaker bobblehead tonight at the Big A. It was also Dairy Night and Alfredo Marte won a cow milking contest. It was a night of perfect temperature and you could practically feel Spring beginning to peel away at the edges, revealing a full blown summer season and a night watching Angels baseball. The team had put the hurt on the visiting Detroit Tigers the night before, and hopes were high in the stands that they could do it again. These things together were well enough reason to be entertained this evening; to leave you walking back to your car, perhaps lighter on your feet due to a lighter wallet, or maybe just lighter in spirits. All of that was pushed to the side, however, when Hector Santiago took the mound. His pitching performance tonight proved to be all the entertainment any of us could hope for or need.
It shouldn’t be any surprise by now, though, that Hector could go out and toss a gem against a decent Tigers team. He’s been on an epic five game tear, and tonight was a concentrated dose of how confident he’s been throughout this season. Tonight Santiago pitched a gorgeous 7.1 innings of shutout baseball, giving up just 3 hits while striking out seven. There were only a few brief moments of calamity, but they were quickly passed by with thrills such as a Kirk Nieuwenhuis catch against the wall or Hector freezing a batter to get out of an inning. He shut the lights off in the stadium tonight, and had every right to drop a mic and walk away.
He was backed up by an offense that lit up Detroit pitching last night, but were having a quite more difficult time this evening with Anibal Sanchez. They managed to score just two runs on six hits: one coming from Ian Kinsler botching a Matt Joyce dribbler with bases loaded (HAHA), and the other run coming on Albert Pujols’ second home run in as many nights, this time a solo shot to left field. The Angels with a 2-0 lead heading into late innings...again.
The pitching for both teams did their best to mute the other’s offensive efforts, and in the seventh, the maestro Hector Santiago was pulled for anthropomorphic question mark Cam Bedrosian. There was a man on base, too, so Mike Scioscia must have some serious trust for the second generation MLB pitcher. Cam didn’t burn the game down, but he didn’t score a few new additions to the highlight reel, either. He allowed a hit and a walk and that’s when Scioscia made the call for Huston Street to come in and get the four-out save. Things were extremely tense for Huston just getting out of the eighth, and in the ninth they only got more deadly. But the ninth was brisk and Street ended the game on a strikeout, Angels stadium erupting in jubilation, and thousands of furry little Matt Shoemakers nodded in approval as if their plastic lives were depended on it.
Hector got the win, got the glory, got his ERA down to 2.17, has a 1.117 WHIP, and has the keys to the Angel kingdom tonight. Huston Street showed guts, guile and blunt force trauma while getting a crucial four outs. Albert Pujols showed us another glimpse of what made him famous. It felt amazing dropping 12 on Detroit last night, and continuing to confound them the next night while getting out with a second win in a row feels like I’m in heaven.