The red-hot right-hander looks to win his fifth straight start as the visiting Angels try for their fourth straight victory Saturday afternoon against the Seattle Mariners.
Santana (5-3, 3.43 ERA) hasn’t lost since May 9, when he allowed five runs in 6 2-3 innings of an 8-1 defeat at Safeco Field.
Since then, Santana has gone 4-0 with a 1.86 ERA in four outings, striking out 28 in 29 innings. Kansas City manager Ned Yost called Santana’s slider “just short of devastating” after he held Kansas City to one run in seven innings of a 7-1 victory Monday.
“Ervin is throwing the ball very consistently,” manager Mike Scioscia told the Angels’ official website. “He’s maintaining his velocity and really used his slider effectively.”
There isn’t much the Angels (29-28) aren’t doing consistently as they recover from a surprisingly slow start.
They’ve won three straight and eight of 10, continuing to score runs in bunches even after RBI leader Kendry Morales(notes) broke his leg celebrating a walk-off grand slam in a 5-1 home win over the Mariners last Saturday.
Los Angeles has scored seven or more runs four times in six games since Morales’ injury, with Hideki Matsui(notes) making perhaps the biggest impact. Matsui has raised his average from .229 to .265 with four consecutive multi-hit games.
“Certainly his presence was important,” Matsui said of Morales. “But it’s not like I’m trying to do more than I wanted to do. It’s not like I changed my approach.”
Matsui went 3 for 3 with a home run and three RBIs in Friday night’s 7-1 series-opening win, helping give the Angels a winning record for the first time since they were 12-11 on April 29.
“It’s a good sign,” Scioscia said. “He’s getting to be that guy in the important part of our order.”
The Mariners (22-32) had won three straight before Friday’s defeat, which dropped them to 2-5 against Los Angeles this season.
Rowland-Smith allowed 10 home runs in 39 innings as a starter. He surrendered two long balls and seven runs in 2 2-3 innings during his most recent start, an 8-4 loss at Oakland on May 17.
The Australian left-hander has never beaten the Angels, although all three of his previous outings against Los Angeles were quality starts.
The Angels will be playing without Scioscia, who is also expected to miss Sunday’s game while attending his daughter’s high school graduation. Bench coach Ron Roenicke will serve as the club’s manager.
Before leaving the team, Scioscia gave beleaguered closer Brian Fuentes(notes) a vote of confidence. The left-hander has a 5.93 ERA and three blown saves in 10 opportunities, but has a win and a save in two appearances this season against Seattle, striking out four in two perfect innings.