The Angels left-hander strengthened his case for a roster spot in the Midsummer Classic on Sunday, allowing only one run on three hits in seven innings in the Angels' 3-2, 10-inning win over the Mariners at Angel Stadium. Santiago's 2015 ERA is now 2.58, fifth in the American League among pitchers with at least 80 innings.
"Hector Santiago is throwing the ball the best he has in his whole life right now," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Whether he's on that field for the All-Star Game or not, there's no doubt that Hector Santiago is an All-Star-caliber pitcher this year."
On Sunday, the latest iteration of the best baseball of Santiago's career came against Felix Hernandez, the Mariners' ace and Angels' nemesis. Hernandez was on top of his game again, spinning six innings of scoreless, one-hit ball before leaving because of cramps, but Santiago was his equal and the Angels were able to weather King Felix's gem.
"That's just a great grind-it-out win against an incredible pitcher," Scioscia said. "Felix is tough and Hector matched him pitch for pitch -- and that has to happen first to give yourself a chance."
And Santiago, of course, knew who he was up against.
"I would love to get a win against Felix -- it makes it that much better -- but my job is to beat those hitters, not beat Felix," Santiago said.
He did beat the Mariners' hitters, consistently, but he didn't get the win. Santiago's record is only 4-4, despite him allowing one earned run or fewer in nine of his past 14 starts. Sunday's no-decision was also his 13th when allowing one run or fewer since the beginning of 2014, most in the Majors over that span. Santiago's record, ideally, should have little bearing on his All-Star case, though.
"I think the way he's pitching, there's no doubt that he's gonna get All-Star consideration," Scioscia said. "There's no doubt he's throwing the ball as well as the top 10 pitchers in our league, the top five pitchers in our league, however you want to slice it up."
Santiago's ERA is obviously a better reflection of his performance.
"You look at Hector's ERA -- he doesn't have the wins, but at the same time, ERA for a starter I think is fairly indicative of how you've pitched," Angels closer Huston Street said. "The All-Star team's a special team. I think he's definitely worth consideration, because it's tough to put up the type of numbers he's put up this year.
"I think he's earned his right."