With the non-waiver Trade Deadline just 10 days away and the Angels with question marks in the rotation following Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, Santana did himself no favors in his shortest outing since only two starts ago, when he went 1 1/3 innings against the Indians on July 4.
Neither manager Mike Scioscia nor Santana himself would say whether the right-hander will be in the rotation the next time his spot comes around. All Scioscia did say was that the Angels are unlikely to use their off-day on Thursday to skip Santana's start, making a four-man rotation.
A trip to the bullpen for Santana isn't out of the question.
"We need five guys," Scioscia said. "We have confidence in Ervin's ability to be one of those five guys, but as we look at things, there are some decisions we're going to have to make.
"Guys are struggling, and [the bullpen] is something that's obviously going to be discussed, but there's no decision."
After the Rangers (56-37) got their first run on three singles in the first inning, they added five more against Santana in the second on three homers and two doubles.
They started the inning with back-to-back shots from Yorvit Torrealba and Mike Napoli, who had two home runs on the day, followed by back-to-back doubles from Craig Gentry and Ian Kinsler, giving the Rangers a 4-0 lead. Santana's deathblow came three batters later via a two-run blast from Adrian Beltre, increasing the lead to six and ending the righty's day.
The three home runs allowed by Santana were the 21st, 22nd and 23rd he has allowed this season, which is second in the Majors behind the Mariners' Jason Vargas, who has given up 25.
"Normally the changeup and the breaking ball is what gives us trouble," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Today we laid off the breaking ball, and he didn't get the opportunity to use his changeup. He really couldn't use those pitches because every time he threw a ball in the zone, we hit it."
Santana raised his season ERA to 6.00 and has allowed four runs or more in 11 of his 19 starts this season. In 25 starts against the Rangers in his career, Santana is 12-10 with a 6.23 ERA.
It isn't a lack of confidence that's affecting Santana, he said. And it's not his velocity or his control too much, either. He simply can't seem to figure out why he hasn't been able to replicate his success from last season.
"I want to know. If you tell me, I'd probably make the adjustment," Santana said. "I just do the best I can right now, and every bullpen I throw is getting better and better, but [I'm] just not getting the results yet."
The Angels got their two runs against Rangers starter Yu Darvish in the third inning on an RBI single from Mike Trout and in the fifth inning on an RBI single from Torii Hunter, scoring Trout.
"I didn't think he was as crisp today as he had been the other two starts, but he got it done," Scioscia said of Darvish. "I think he was more erratic today in some areas, but found a way to get through seven and obviously pitched a good game. I think he was behind a lot of counts, but like any good pitcher, they find a way to get back in the zone when they have to, and he did. Give him credit."
With his run, Trout has now scored at least one run in 13 straight games, tying Jim Edmonds' franchise record set in 1995. He is also tied for the longest rookie run streak in AL history with Jake Powell (Washington Senators, 1935) and Don Lenhardt (Browns, 1950). But Trout was one of the only ones to have much success against Darvish.
In his third start against the Angels this season, the right-hander (11-6) lasted seven innings, allowing two runs on three hits and four walks, while tying a career high in strikeouts with 11. The 25-year-old rookie has held the Angels' 3-4-5 hitters -- Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales -- to a .045 average (1-for-22) this season, including 0-for-9 on Saturday.
"Probably his fastball," Trumbo said of Darvish's best pitch. "He's got a pretty nasty slider, too, but his fastball moves to the point where it's tough to judge where it's going to end up a lot of the time."