Ervin Santana will try to bounce back from a tough-luck loss and slow down the red-hot Jose Bautista this evening when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim play the second contest of a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Santana has been excellent in his last two outings since back-to-back starts in which he allowed seven runs each time out, but has split the two decisions. The right-hander notched a one-hit shutout of the Diamondbacks on June 16 and threw another eight solid innings versus the Dodgers seven days later. Santana struck out 10 but was also charged with three runs -- two earned -- on four hits without a walk in a 3-1 defeat.
The loss dropped Santana to 4-8 with a 4.92 earned run average in 15 starts this season.
"When you hit your spots, and they hit it, you just have to tip your cap." reasoned Santana.
The 29-year-old suffered a similar defeat to the visiting Blue Jays on May 4, when he gave up three runs over eight innings and struck out 10 only to drop a 4-0 decision. That left him 6-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 13 career meetings with Toronto.
Santana will try to pitch the Angels to a fifth straight win tonight, but must avoid the bat of Bautista. The Toronto slugger is 6-for-20 lifetime versus Santana with a pair of homers and four RBI and slugged his MLB-leading 26th homer of the season in last night's 9-7 setback to Los Angeles.
Bautista's homer was his 14th of June, the most ever by a Blue Jays player in any single month.
Toronto, though, saw starter Brett Cecil allow eight runs over 5 1/3 frames to take a loss.
"At some point we have got to find a way to get deep into games," said Toronto manager John Farrell about his starting pitching. "We're putting an awful lot of pressure on our bullpen right now."
Farrell will likely need to call on his relievers again tonight with Carlos Villanueva set to make his first start of the season. The right-hander has gone 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in 22 appearances out of Farrell's bullpen this season, but will shift to a starting role due to a string of injuries to Toronto's rotation.
Villanueva has made 40 starts in his career with Milwaukee and Toronto, going 11-15 with a 4.92 ERA in that role. He is set to become the 10th different Blue Jay to start a game this season and Farrell is hoping to get 75-85 pitches from him.
The 28-year-old has never faced the Angels as a starter, but has never allowed a hit against them in five previous relief encounters that have spanned six innings.
Los Angeles will look to notch its first hit off Villanueva after getting homers in Thursday's win from Mike Trout, Alberto Callaspo and Mark Trumbo. Albert Pujols added a pair of doubles among his four hits and scored three times.
Dan Haren earned the victory despite allowing six runs on seven hits and one walk over six frames. Ernesto Frieri retired the final hitter of the eighth and worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to nail down his 10th save of the season.
Though the Angels won for the 25th time in their past 33 games, they remain 4 1/2 games behind the Rangers for first place in the American League West.
The Angels and Jays split a four-game series in Anaheim back in early May.