Angels flip script in shutout of Athletics

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After dropping his first six starts of the season, Ervin Santana has turned the corner and won his last two games.Earlier this season, Ervin Santana couldn’t get any run support. Against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday, he took matters into his own hands.

Santana started the season by losing his first six starts. His 5.59 ERA in that span didn’t help, but the Los Angeles Angels offense made picking up wins impossible.

After scoring three runs in Santana’s first start of the season, the Angels were shut out in his next five starts. Thanks to our friends at Elias, we know that this stretch was the first time in major-league history that a team failed to score a run in five straight starts by a pitcher.

Most Times Shut Out This Season

Through their first 37 games, the Angels have been shut out eight times. The last American League team to be shut out this frequently early in the season was the 2003 Detroit Tigers, who finished 43-119 that season.

Santana turned the corner in a 6-2 win over the Minnesota Twins last week and was even better against the A’s Tuesday afternoon. He picked up his second straight win by striking out nine in 7⅔ shutout innings.

Santana was especially effective with his slider. He recorded six of his nine strikeouts on the pitch, with Oakland hitters missed on 12 of their 23 swings. Those 12 swinging strikes are the most that he has recorded with his slider in the last two seasons.

In addition to the six strikeouts, the A’s recorded outs all four times they put his slider in play. It was the first time since Santana’s no-hitter last July that he did not allow a hit with the pitch.

Santana was also able to mix in his changeup to keep the seven lefties in the Oakland lineup off balance. He threw 17 changeups, all to left-handed hitters, his most in a start in the last four seasons and didn’t surrender a hit on the pitch.

Mike Trout vs Fastballs

Mike Trout scored three of the four runs in support of Santana, finishing the game with three hits and his third home run of the season. After struggling against fastballs last season, Trout is hitting over .300 with all three homers against heat this season.

Albert Pujols also recorded one of his best games at the plate so far this season, rapping out three hits and driving in two runs. Three of his six multi-hit games this year have come against the Athletics, including both three-hit games.

Around the Diamond

Bryce Harper went deep for the second straight game. According to Elias, he’s the fifth number one pick to hit his first two home runs in back-to-back games, joining Josh Hamilton, Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey Jr. and Darryl Strawberry.

Edwin Encarnacion hit his 12th home run of the season, with nine of them at Rogers Centre. In the last two years, 23 of his 29 homers (79 percent) have been at home. That’s the highest percentage in the majors over that span.

Derek Lowe induced 22 outs on groundballs as he became the first pitcher since Scott Erickson in 2002 to toss a shutout without recording a strikeout.

• After allowing only seven total runs in five April starts, Colby Lewis has allowed six-or-more runs in each of his starts in May.