Santana asked to help save bullpen

Santana asked to help save bullpen

Santana asked to help save bullpen
CHICAGO -- The so-called "governor" that capped Angels starter Ervin Santana for his last start at a max of 15 outs was removed for his start on Saturday night against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia might prefer to give the 15-out limit another whirl with Santana -- who won his previous start in Texas -- but the bullpen was in no shape to afford doing it.

The Angels are down two regulars with injuries to Jordan Walden and Scott Downs and the bullpen had worked 15 1/3 innings in the previous five games -- including 2 1/3 innings split among four relievers in Friday night's 8-6, 10-inning loss.

"[Santana's] got to go as long as he can," Scioscia said prior to Santana working six innings of a 6-5, 10-inning victory.. "He'll go as long as he can. I think there was some value on him focusing on 15 outs, but we just can't afford to do that right now."

The bullpen situation is the reason and a long start by Santana could go a long way toward helping the Angels get through the next few weeks -- when the hope is to get Walden and Downs back. Walden is further along in his recovery from soreness in his neck and biceps tendinitis, while Downs won't pick up a ball to start any kind of throwing motion until Monday.

Meanwhile, Scioscia has his eyes on the starting staff, hoping it can get back to going deeper in games.

"This gets back to our starting pitching, as the starting pitchers can pitch to a certain point in the game," Scioscia said. "If you look at our last [20 or so] starts, I think we're only averaging maybe 17 outs. That's a big difference from the projection of what these guys had done earlier, when they were getting routinely 20-22 outs. If we get our starting pitching reset and start getting some length with our starting pitching, then I think the bullpen will reset and we'll be fine."

Getting the left-handed Downs (strained left shoulder) healthy enough to pitch again would also be a huge boost, simply because he's a key part of the bullpen. Without Downs available, the only left-hander is Hisanori Takahashi -- who took the loss on Friday night after allowing a leadoff infield single to Adam Dunn in the 10th.

"It's tough right now," veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins said. "We really need Downs back. Walden's great, too, but we really need Downs back. In different situations, he's a special lefty that you can't replace. When I'm down, I'm replaceable. Downs is not replaceable. We need Scott Downs."