ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Ervin Santana is doing everything possible to make up for a disappointing 2007 season that included a brief demotion to the minor leagues.
Santana allowed three hits over eight innings and retired 20 of his first 21 batters Saturday night, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 4-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners."This might have been the best stuff we've ever seen him have," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He was really loaded and just had great life on that fastball -- with command. I think he's shown that his stuff can play up here in the big leagues in a big way."Santana (3-0) struck out eight and walked none, lowering his ERA to 2.67 and improving his all-time home record to 26-9. The right-hander was 7-14 with a 5.76 ERA last season, after winning 28 games over his first two big league campaigns and making a name for himself in the 2005 AL Division Series against the Yankees."It's kind of frustrating, when you could see the talent he showed in his first two years with us," Scioscia said. "Then all of a sudden, he got out of his mechanics for a long time last year and couldn't get back into it."But this kid believes he can compete and beat any club out there. And he matched that confidence with great stuff."The only baserunner Santana allowed over the first 6 2-3 innings was Greg Norton, who doubled off the center field wall with one out in the first and was stranded at third when Brad Wilkerson took a called third strike.Adrian Beltre homered with two out in the seventh, snapping a string of 16 consecutive Seattle outs. Wilkerson's bloop single in the eighth was the only other hit off Santana, who struck out his last two batters."He threw strikes and he had great command," Seattle catcher Jamie Burke said. "Throwing 92-96 with a slider that I hadn't seen him throw before, that's what impressed me about him. He was throwing strike one with all of his pitches. And when he was behind in the count, he was throwing his off-speed stuff."Scot Shields pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save of the season and 17th of his career, allowing one hit. Regular closer Francisco Rodriguez got the night off after pitching in five of the previous six games.Jarrod Washburn (1-3) allowed four runs, 10 hits and no walks over six innings. The left-hander, who spent eight seasons with the Angels and helped them win the World Series in 2002, is 4-3 with a 4.47 ERA in eight starts against them since signing a four-year contract with Seattle in December of 2005."Jarrod made some good pitches, but they've got a quality lineup over there," Burke said.The game was played in a crisp 2 hours, 11 minutes. Ten of the Mariners' first 19 games have lasted less than 2 1/2 hours, including the last four."Our pitchers like to get on with their work," Burke said. "I mean, you don't need to be walking around the mound and thinking about things. Just get the ball and throw it. That's what all of our guys do. You work fast and you get in a rhythm, and I think that's the key to everything."Torii Hunter, who tied an Angels record with three doubles in Friday night's 5-4 victory, hit another one his first time up and scored the game's first run on Jeff Mathis' sacrifice fly.The Angels increased the margin to 4-0 the fourth when Erick Aybar hit a two-run single, continued to second on the throw home by right fielder Wilkerson and scored on a single by Chone Figgins. Both hits came with two out."If he calls the 2-2 pitch to Aybar, we're still out there playing at 1-1," Washburn said in reference to umpire Mike Reilly. "I thought it was a strike. But the thing is, I didn't make the pitch after that, and Aybar got the hit. I was trying to get the pitch inside. It got the inner half, and he got enough ball on it to get it over the infield."
After the game, the Angels activated RHP Chris Bootcheck from the 15-day DL and optioned RHP Alex Serrano to Triple-A Salt Lake. ... Former Mariners backup catcher John Marzano died Saturday at age 45 after falling down a flight of stairs at his home. Marzano caught Randy Johnson's final start for Seattle -- a 142-pitch, complete-game 4-3 loss to Cleveland at the Kingdome on July 28, 1998. Johnson was traded to Houston three days later. ... RHP John Lackey, on the DL list for the first time in his career because of a strained triceps, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday. ... Angels 2B Sean Rodriguez made his major league debut and lined a single to left in the sixth for his first hit. ... Washburn has allowed only two walks in 24 innings over his first four starts. Last season he walked a career-high 67 batters in 193 2-3 innings.