Hector Santiago has been brilliant in winning his last three outings and has been even better in three this year against the Texas Rangers.
His mound opponent Saturday night is Yovani Gallardo, who will see a nemesis from his past while also facing Mike Trout for the first time.
These starters meet in the middle game of this series in Anaheim, with the Angels out to avoid their first three-game slide in nearly two months.
Santiago (7-4, 2.30 ERA) matched a career high with 10 strikeouts over five-plus innings Monday in an 11-1 rout over Boston, giving him a 0.95 ERA in a three-start win streak and a 1.13 mark in his last five with the Angels winning all of them. The All-Star hadn’t pitched since July 10.
"It’s good to get a little extra rest in your arm, but then you definitely have to try and figure out how to do it again, figure out how to get back in that rhythm,” Santiago said.
The left-hander is 2-0 with a 0.93 ERA in three outings against the Rangers, with Rougned Odor going 3 for 7 against him as the only Rangers batter with more than one hit. Prince Fielder is 1 for 9 versus Santiago this year, Leonys Martin is 1 for 8 and Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre are each 1 for 7.
Santiago has never faced Josh Hamilton, who went 2 for 4 with a double and two runs scored in Friday’s 4-2 victory for Texas (46-49) in his return to Anaheim. Hamilton, traded back to the Rangers on April 27, was booed whenever he stepped to the plate or fielded the ball at the stadium where he played the previous two seasons after signing a five-year, $125 million free-agent deal with the Angels.
”The reaction from the crowd was exactly what I expected,” Hamilton said. ”Wasn’t too bad. Wasn’t good, either.”
The Rangers improved baseball’s best road record to 30-23 by beating the Angels for the third time in 10 meetings.
They will hand the ball to Gallardo (7-9, 2.91), who has posted a 5.28 ERA in a three-start slide after throwing 26 1-3 scoreless innings over his previous four. He was charged with a season-high five earned runs over four-plus innings in Sunday’s 10-0 loss at Houston, throwing 48 of 93 pitches for strikes.
"This is the first time I’ve felt like that in a long time," he said. "Just falling behind guys."
The right-hander has never faced Trout or the Angels, though there is one Los Angeles hitter who can pass along knowledge on him. Albert Pujols is 14 for 29 with four homers against Gallardo, including a 2-for-2 effort in the playoffs.
Pujols, though, was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts Friday as a six-game hitting streak in which he batted .391 ended.
Trout matched Pujols for the major league lead with his 29th homer and drove in both runs for Los Angeles (54-42), which hasn’t dropped three in a row since a five-game slide June 2-7.
Trout, hitting .371 against Texas this season, is 17 for 49 (.347) with eight homers and 14 RBIs in his last 13 games.
Fielder was 0 for 3 with a walk to snap his 12-game hitting streak versus the Angels.
The Angels acquired infielder Conor Gillaspie from the Chicago White Sox for cash on Friday. The .237 hitter is expected to join the team in time for this game.