Santana dominates Yanks as Angels advance to ALCS

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ervin Santana didn't have time to get nervous.

The Los Angeles Angels rookie, relegated to the bullpen for the AL Division Series because of a four-man rotation, made his postseason debut in the second inning Monday night after Bartolo Colon left with an injured shoulder.

"We didn't have a lot of options," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We had a lot of confidence in Erv. Ervin Santana is the story for us."

The 22-year-old Dominican right-hander pitched 5 1/3 impressive innings in a 5-3 victory over the New York Yankees that put the Angels into the AL Championship Series against the Chicago White Sox.

"I don't have to be nervous. It's a baseball game," said Santana, who was 12-8 with a 4.65 ERA in 23 regular-season starts and pitched a five-hit shutout to beat the White Sox in his second big-league outing. "I've heard that question the whole season."

The game was scoreless when Santana inherited a 3-2 count from Colon with Robinson Cano at bat. He completed the walk, which was charged to Colon, but Cano was thrown out trying to steal second. Santana walked the next two batters before giving up Bubba Crosby's RBI single and Derek Jeter's sacrifice fly.

The Angels rallied with three runs in the bottom of the second and two more in the third against Mike Mussina, and Santana kept the Angels at bay until Jeter homered against him leading off the seventh, trimming the Angels' lead to 5-3.

Santana faced one more batter before leaving to a standing ovation and getting high-fives up and down the Angels' dugout.

"Santana did a great job," Jeter said. "We scored those couple of runs early, but after that we didn't do much damage off of him."

The Yankees felt they got the break they needed when Colon departed.

"We thought so, but we didn't know what to expect," third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "Santana seemed like he got his rhythm and pitched extremely well."

Santana's only other jam was in the fifth. He hit Rodriguez leading off the inning and Jason Giambi followed with a single, but the rookie came back to retire Gary Sheffield on a flyout and Hideki Matsui on a pop-up. Cano struck out and tried to make it to first base when the ball got away from catcher Bengie Molina but was called out for interference by plate umpire Joe West for running inside the baseline after Molina's throw to Darin Erstad caromed off Cano.

"Whether the ball hit him or not, he interfered with Erstad trying to catch the ball," West said. "I don't think they can see that from the dugout. In fact, I think the only people who can see it are us standing on the line and the first baseman trying to catch the ball. So when I told [Joe Torre] what happened; he was upset, naturally, because it took them out of the inning, but he didn't argue the rule."

Santana was one of the major reasons the Angels were able to repeat as West Division champs. He began the season with Double-A Arkansas and was promoted from Triple-A Salt Lake for the second time on June 14 when Kelvim Escobar made one of his three trips to the disabled list because of shoulder problems.

"He's our secret weapon," Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera said. "The adjustment to him may have caused the Yankees some problems."

In July, Santana became only the third rookie pitcher over the past 20 years to beat the Yankees twice in one week -- along with Boston's Brian Rose (1999) and future Yankee Kevin Brown (1989), who was with Texas.

"We know he has ability, but he's inexperienced. So I thought losing Colon was a bad break for them and a good one for us," Torre said. "Mike trusted him right down to the seventh inning, and unfortunately, we couldn't cash in on some of the opportunities we had."