8/18/2014 7:20 P.M. ET
Shoemaker, Santiago giving Angels a boost
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
BOSTON -- The vulnerability of the Angels' starting staff became evident Aug. 10, when it was announced that 23-year-old left-hander Tyler Skaggs would undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Suddenly there was no safety net, with little help available in the upper levels of the Angels' farm system, and guys like Hector Santiago and Matt Shoemaker were going to have to step up in the back end of the rotation.
So far, they have.
Shoemaker gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Rangers on Saturday, giving him his 11th win of the season and putting his ERA at 3.76 in 14 starts. Santiago pitched six innings of one-run ball in a no-decision Sunday and now has a 2.59 ERA in 59 innings since being called back up from Triple-A on June 10.
"Shoemaker and Santiago has given us a chance to win almost every time out," Angels catcher Chris Iannetta said. "If they do that, we're in a good spot."
Shoemaker, a 27-year-old right-hander, and Santiago, a 26-year-old left-hander, couldn't be wired any more differently. Santiago is high-energy, sometimes to a fault, and is prone to being erratic, particularly while starting the year 0-6 with a 5.19 ERA in his first seven starts.
The key, as usual batterymate Hank Conger put it, was "toning everything down" and not putting too much pressure on himself.
"I'm kind of going game to game now," Santiago said. "Especially with me pitching one day and going to the bullpen, and going back and forth, like, 'This is my last start.' Whatever it is, five, six, seven innings, I just try to take that game as the last game of the year. I just worry about today, and that's all that matters. I can't pitch five days from now.
"I think in the beginning of the year it was just something where I was like, 'They want 35 starts from me, they want 200 innings.' I was trying to conserve pitches to go seven innings. ... I put way too much pressure on myself."
For Shoemaker, it was the opposite -- the Angels weren't counting on much of anything.
Shoemaker was undrafted out of Eastern Michigan University and spent almost all of the last two years mired in Triple-A. But he doesn't put added pressure on himself and simply attacks hitters with an effective four-pitch mix. This year, Shoemaker has beaten the likes of Cliff Lee, James Shields, Chris Sale, Yu Darvish and Justin Verlander.
As Albert Pujols said, "There's nobody in this locker room that deserves that more than him."
"I definitely thought it was a possibility," Shoemaker said of attaining this kind of success in 2014. "Did I think it was going to happen? Not necessarily. But my competitiveness tells me, 'Hey, it's possible. Anything is possible.'"
Hamilton sits again, will have extra hitting session
BOSTON -- Angels cleanup hitter Josh Hamilton was out of the starting lineup for a second straight day Monday, with manager Mike Scioscia wanting to give him some extra time to recover from his ongoing slump.
Hamilton had five hits and 18 strikeouts in his last 38 at-bats, dropping his batting average to .266 while keeping his home run total at eight through 72 games. He's scheduled to come to Fenway Park early on Tuesday to have a one-on-one session with hitting coaches Don Baylor and Dave Hansen "to try to find a comfortable concept in the batter's box that he can take to the game," Scioscia said.
"I'm all right," Hamilton said Monday, "but I don't make the lineup. ... I'm going to do some early work tomorrow, see how it goes. If I hit enough out, I'll play."
With Hamilton out, Howie Kendrick -- with 10 hits in his last 30 at-bats -- batted in the No. 4 spot for the second straight day. Hamilton has missed five games in the last nine days, if you count two Angels off-days Tuesday and Thursday. The 33-year-old got mental breaks Monday and each of the last two Sundays.
"It brings a lot of attention to what you're trying to do when a guy you count on to hit in the middle of your lineup is struggling for a long period of time," Scioscia said. "We have every confidence, and I know Josh does, that he's going to find it and he's going to contribute. Any concern would just be short term trying to find a path that's going to get him where he needs to be. This guy's going to hit."
Thatcher, Green need more time with injuries
BOSTON -- Angels reliever Joe Thatcher was hoping to return from a sprained left ankle by Friday, for the start of a three-game weekend series against the A's, but "that may be a little too aggressive," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said from Fenway Park on Monday.
Thatcher, Scioscia added, "is still a ways away." The veteran lefty specialist, out since Aug. 3, is rehabbing in Arizona and hasn't thrown off a mound yet.
Utility man Grant Green, on the disabled list with a lumbar strain since July 23 and also rehabbing in Arizona, ran the bases recently and is close to going out on a rehab assignment.
Asked if Green can join the Angels before their 10-game road trip ends Sunday, Scioscia said "that's probably a long shot."
Remaining schedule does no favors for Angels
BOSTON -- The Angels got their off-days at the wrong time.
The schedule-makers gave them four in April and seven Thursdays without a game among their first eight. And now, with the grind of the season as intense as ever, the Angels have only two days off the rest of the way, the fewest among playoff contenders.
They're off Sept. 1 and then on Sept. 25. That's it. It makes up a stretch that will see them end with 43 games in 45 days. Ten of them will come on a vicious, four-city road trip that goes through Houston, Minnesota, Cleveland -- for a makeup game -- and Arlington from Sept. 2-11.
"We're going to have expanded rosters in a couple weeks, which will definitely help," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Our guys will be ready."
• Pujols started at designated hitter for a second straight game Monday, with Scioscia calling it "a double-up recharge day." Pujols, expected to return to first base Tuesday, hadn't started back-to-back games at DH since June 28-29.
• Closer Huston Street and setup man Joe Smith each appeared in all three games against the Rangers over the weekend, making them unavailable for the series opener against the Red Sox.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.