Santiago's solid start a welcome sign for Halos

Lefty stirkes out seven in six innings, allowing two runs

Santiago's solid start a welcome sign for Halos

ANAHEIM -- Perhaps the best sign for the Angels came long before Albert Pujols would send them to a 4-3, walk-off victory against the Rangers on Thursday night.

It came from the left arm of the Angels starter, Hector Santiago, who limited the Rangers to two runs and four baserunners through the first six innings and was throwing his fastball mainly in the 93- to 94-mph range, a couple of ticks faster than his average from his first two seasons in Southern California.

Pujols noticed the uptick in velocity, and said it "reminded me of when he was with the White Sox."

Santiago was a reliever in those days, and he's trying to rekindle that mindset.

"It's just trying to figure out the whole starting thing and being able to conserve velocity, being able to pitch late in games," Santiago said of not throwing that hard in prior seasons. "And this year, I kind of came in with the mentality of, 'Get after every pitch. If you're going to go one or five or seven innings, give it all you've got.' Hopefully I can carry that all the way through the year."

Santiago walked just two, struck out seven and exited after giving up back-to-back hits to begin the seventh inning. It was a solid start, immediately after a solid spring in which he put up a 2.89 ERA in seven outings.

And it was a welcome sign for a rotation that could use some, with Andrew Heaney nursing tightness in his forearm, C.J. Wilson shut down with shoulder tendinitis, Jered Weaver throwing mostly 80 mph and Tyler Skaggs still working his way back from Tommy John surgery.

Santiago entered Spring Training thinking he might get pushed to the bullpen.

Now he's basically the Angels' No. 2 starter.

"That's how it always is," Santiago said. "The last four years it was come in, compete for a spot, nothing's secure, we've got a bunch of guys, and then something kind of happens. … It's kind of a good place to be where you're the underdog, and you kind of answer up."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.