"He was seven feet away," Santiago said of Fielder. "If it's a good throw, on line, he's out."
But Simmons' throw tailed wide, and Fielder, the Rangers' slow-moving designated hitter, was able to score from first base on Ian Desmond's two-out double, plating the eventual winning run in the Angels' 4-2 loss.
The Angels led by a run with two outs and a runner on third in the bottom of the sixth, and then Santiago, with a 2.70 ERA in his first four starts, began to get hit around. Fielder, with 15 hits in his first 81 at-bats, slapped a 3-1 changeup through the right side for a game-tying single, which went for his 1,000th career RBI.
The next batter, Desmond, fell behind in the count, 0-2, then fouled a pitch off, took three others for balls and turned on a low-and-in changeup, lining it down the left-field line for the hit that swung the momentum of the series opener.
"He just fouled off some good pitches, and he laid off some really good pitches that were my chase pitches," Santiago said of Desmond. "I just tried to make a really good changeup, and I yanked it a little bit, right into his bat path."
Desmond's hard one-hopper whizzed past third baseman Yunel Escobar and went all the way to the left-field corner, where Rafael Ortega scooped it up with his bare hand and fired it into an eager Simmons. Fielder had just finished rounding third base when the ball reached Simmons' glove, but the throw tailed well to the right of home plate.
"I just have to make a better throw," said Simmons, speaking moments before watching the play again in slow motion. "I picked up the catcher a little late. It's on me. I have to make a better throw."
It's a play Simmons has executed countless times, but not one Angels manager Mike Scioscia considers simple, "just because of where the runner is, and your window is really narrow."
It was the difference in the game, but only because the offense mustered three hits in the last five innings and Albert Pujols picked his foot off second base for half a second. Santiago noted how Simmons had to jump to catch the relay throw, then plant before quickly releasing the throw, which heightened the degree of difficulty.
"You just give him credit, just to even make it like that," Santiago said. "With his arm, with his accuracy, I thought he was going to be out, for sure. As soon as Simmons had the ball in his hands, I said, 'He's out.' Then he yanked it a little bit. But that's going to happen. Not every throw is going to be perfect."