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Saturday, August 6, 2011
Angels Moment No. 18: Ervin's magic

By Mark Saxon

If you watched Ervin Santana's no-hitter and stuck around for Jose Mota's on-field interview afterward, you probably heard him say something about dedicating the day to his cousin.

Here is the back story:

About two months ago, Santana's cousin, Ruben Santo Augustin Corporan, a man who grew up just a couple hundred yards from Santana and who the pitcher describes as "like my brother," collapsed while getting into his car in the Dominican Republic.

He was rushed to a nearby hospital and, after a week there, died of complications from a burst appendix on Father's Day. He was 34. When Santana talks about, he still gets tears in his eyes.

"He was so into baseball," Santana said. "Every little thing I did, he was so into it. We talked all the time."

Santana, who left the team to attend the funeral in June, has dedicated the rest of this season to his cousin. If you can read Spanish, be sure to check out ESPNDeportesLA.com's gripping account of the cousins' relationship by Noel Pineiro Planas.

Maybe it was experiencing the tragedy or playing in someone's honor, but Santana is pitching with a focus that's unreal these days. Since his cousin died, Santana is 6-2 with a 2.11 ERA. He followed up the eighth solo no-hitter in team history with a complete-game victory over the Minnesota Twins.

Combined with Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, Santana has given the Angels a Big Three that could make them formidable if they're able to qualify for the playoffs. If that happens, you can be sure who Santana will be thinking about when the champagne flows.

This story is part of an occasional series of Angels Moments which, when it's complete, will -- we hope -- add up to 50. The Angels are celebrating their 50th anniversary this season. These are not intended to be an exhaustive list, but simply an assembly of scenes and anecdotes that are part of the team's colorful past.