Angels 6, Athletics 0
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Ervin Santana made his last start of the season Friday night, and he’s already looking forward to next year.
Santana (16-8) struck out two and walked three. It’s the first time the right-hander has won consecutive outings since July 15, when he won his seventh straight decision in a span of eight starts—including the last three.
“I’m very proud and happy and I feel like I’m ready for next season,” Santana said. “This year my goal was to win 20 games, but I’m happy anyway because I won 16.”
Eliminated from the playoff picture Tuesday when the Athletics dethroned them as AL West champs, the Angels have taken the first two of this series with back-to-back shutouts against Barry Zito and Esteban Loaiza, who were named Friday by manager Ken Macha as his starters for the first two games of their first-round series against either Minnesota or Detroit.
“I can’t begin to express the disappointment earlier this week when we were eliminated,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after his team moved a season-best 16 games over .500. “That was a tough night for all of us and you wake up the next day with a hollow feeling. But there’s nothing we can do about it now, and we’re over it. We’re picking up the pieces and moving on. We wanted to come out here and end up on a good note.”
Pitching his first full season in the majors, Santana finished with 141 strikeouts in 204 innings and a 4.28 ERA. He was the winningest pitcher on a staff that was without Cy Young Award-winning right-hander Bartolo Colon for most of the season.
“The way Ervin pitched down the stretch for us last year and in Game 5 of the Division Series has to give anyone a confidence boost,” Scioscia said, referring to Santana’s series-clinching victory over the Yankees in relief of an injured Kelvim Escobar. “Ervin picked right up this year and repeated with a terrific season.”
Loaiza (11-9) allowed four runs, three earned, and six hits over four innings. He finished the regular season with a 4.89 ERA, after going 7-1 over his previous 10 starts. The right-hander is 0-4 with an 8.49 ERA in his last seven starts against the Angels, who haven’t lost to him since Aug. 20, 2003.
Oakland was shut out in consecutive games for the first time since June 19-20 at Colorado. The A’s rested some of their regulars in both games, but they know they can’t afford to get into bad habits.
“We feel like we’ve got a good enough team to get to where we want to be. You’ve just got to believe in yourself,” Jay Payton said. “The hot team wins in the playoffs. If you get hot and everybody’s clicking at the right time, that’s the team that’s going to go all the way.”
Oakland is batting .259 as a team, the second lowest in the AL. The A’s also have the second-fewest hits, total bases and slugging percentage in the league, and have been shut out 11 times. They also have scored the fifth-fewest runs.
“If you look at our offensive numbers overall, it wasn’t great. But one thing we were able to do was bear down and get that big hit when we needed it,” Payton said. “When we were playing our best ball, we got really good pitching and getting that timely hit. And that’s what we’re going to have to do in the playoffs. We know we’ve got the right pieces to get it done.”
Figgins doubled in a run in the second and Jeff Mathis added a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. Tim Salmon had an RBI single, Garret Anderson a sacrifice fly and Adam Kennedy a run-scoring single as the Angels jumped out to a 5-0 lead after five innings.
“When I first hit it, I saw it hit and then spin away, so I thought I had a chance at a triple,” Figgins said. “But after I took second base I heard the crowd yelling louder, so it made me think that something happened out there.”
Oakland manager Ken Macha turned 56 years old Friday. He was reminded of the first birthday he celebrated after joining the Angels coaching staff in 1992, when he returned to the clubhouse and saw a large birthday cake sitting on a table. He was elated—until he was told it was for then-owner Gene Autry. Friday would have been the Singing Cowboy’s 99th birthday. … Angels 1B Darin Erstad will meet with Dr. Philip Kwong on Sunday to decide on a date to have surgery on the troublesome right ankle that limited him to 40 games and 95 at-bats this season. … Payton grounded into a double play in the fourth. It was the major league-leading 164th this season by the Athletics, breaking the Oakland record set in 1989.