It all went so smoothly for the Angels on Tuesday night that it seemed strange, unfamiliar.
Ervin Santana threw his seventh career complete game, allowing three runs and four hits, striking out 10 and walking one and keeping his team’s Gas House Gang of a bullpen far away from the Angel Stadium mound.
The Angels racked up 12 hits, including another home run by Mike Napoli. They pressured Toronto on the bases, executed a suicide squeeze and built a big, early lead. Their only fielding error didn’t hurt them.
It was one of those rare nights when a club that has spent much of this season in the break-down lane clicked on all cylinders, and the result was a convincing 8-3 victory over the Blue Jays that bumped the Angels’ record to 22-26.
About the only glitch was the shipment of some 44,000 “garden gnomes” that didn’t arrive at the stadium in time to be handed out to fans before the game.
“The thing we’re looking at right now is consistency, and you’re not going to find it in one game,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “We did things out there that we need to do to win games. We had some great situational hitting, we pressured those guys.
“This is what we have to bring night in, night out. We played a good game, and we have to follow it up. If you’re going to bring it one night and not another night, you’re going to struggle. That’s what we’ve seen the first 50 games or so, but we have more in us.”
Santana has had plenty against a Blue Jays team that leads the American League in home runs, doubles and slugging percentage, following his complete-game, one-run effort in a 3-1 win in Toronto on April 18 with another gem against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night.
Relying mostly on a well-placed fastball and sharp-breaking slider, the right-hander threw first-pitch strikes to 28 of 33 batters, and the three homers he allowed were solo shots, to Jose Bautista (fifth inning), Aaron Hill (sixth) and Jeremy Reed (eighth).
“When they have their good stuff it’s easy and so much fun back there,” said Napoli, the Angels’ catcher. “You can almost throw anything at any time.”
It didn’t hurt that Santana (4-3) had a five-run lead by the second inning.
Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero, who grew up in East Los Angeles and starred at Cal State Fullerton, was hoping to impress the 30 or so friends and family members on hand for his first-ever start in Angel Stadium.
But the left-hander, who entered with a 4-1 record and 2.71 earned-run average, allowed seven runs and 11 hits, both season highs, in 51/3 innings and fell to 4-2.
Erick Aybar reached on an infield single and scored on Bobby Abreu’s double to right-center field in the first, and the Angels bunched six hits, a season high for an inning, in a four-run second.
Napoli opened with a single and took third base on Maicer Izturis’ single to right. Reggie Willits knocked in a run with an infield single, and Izturis, who took third on an error, scored when Aybar got a suicide squeeze down on a high fastball.
Howie Kendrick followed with a run-scoring double to right, and Abreu added an RBI single to center for a 5-0 lead.
Bautista’s league-leading 15th homer in the fifth and Hill’s shot in the sixth pulled the Blue Jays within 5-2.
But Napoli led off the sixth by lining a homer to left, his fourth home run in five games and seventh in May, and Izturis walked, took second on Willits’ bunt and scored on Aybar’s double to right-center for a 7-2 lead.
“This is what we have to do, put it all together, not just pitching well one night and with no hitting or hitting with no pitching,” Napoli said. “This is what we have to do to get on a streak.”