ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — At this point, things can only get better for Hector Santiago in his first season with the Los Angeles Angels.
The frustrated left-hander gave up home runs to Shin-Soo Choo and Alex Rios in the sixth inning Friday night against the Texas Rangers and lost a 5-2 decision to Colby Lewis.
Santiago (0-5) was charged with five runs and seven hits in six-plus innings. He has a 5.01 ERA in six starts.
“I don’t want to say I’m not worried about my record – 0-5 is definitely a tough start,” Santiago said. “With the White Sox last year I was 4-9 and I had a lot of losses. Some of the games, one swing of the bat, one shift or one groundball could’ve been the game-changer for sure.”
Santiago was replaced by Kevin Jepsen with a 3-2 deficit. Choo then singled home Leonys Martin, and Michael Choice scored the Rangers’ fifth run as third baseman Ian Stewart fielded Elvis Andrus’ grounder and hit Choice with his throw home.
“I think he’s going to be fine,” Angels catcher Hank Conger said about Santiago. “Physically, it won’t take much. Mentally, it does start to creep into pitchers’ minds. But he’s been throwing good bullpens and he’s been upbeat.
“He knows he wants to get that first win off his back. But I think this experience is going to be a good test for him, and a good challenge for him to try to harness what he took out of this start and take it into the next one.”
Stewart entered the game as a defensive replacement for David Freese, who left with what was described as a bruise on the middle finger of his right hand after he was hit by an 0-2 pitch in the third.
Postgame X-rays revealed a small, non-displaced fracture. The 2011 World Series MVP, acquired in a November trade with St. Louis, is batting .202 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 84 at-bats.
“I don’t even think that the ball was that far in,” Lewis said. “I threw him two heaters down and away. I don’t know if he was thinking I was coming back down and away, but it was just a situation where I was trying to establish the inside part of the plate, and I got him. Of course it’s frustrating to lose a guy 0-2, but I was able to get out of that situation.”
Texas was trailing 2-0 when Choo drove Santiago’s first pitch of the sixth just beyond the reach of center fielder Mike Trout to end a six-game home run drought for the Rangers – who hit 26 against the Angels last year while winning the season series 15-4 over their NL West rivals.
“It’s always tough playing within our division,” Conger said. “Looking back at last year, Texas did give us some fits. They have a good lineup, with a good mix of power guys and a couple of guys that can set the table for them. Tonight it was just two pitches that really turned the game around.”
Two outs later, Prince Fielder reached on an infield single and Rios sent a 2-1 pitch into the rock pile in left-center for his second of the season.
The only other time this season that the Rangers had two home runs in one inning was April 15, when Fielder and Kevin Kouzmanoff went back-to-back to start the second against Seattle’s Blake Beavan in a 5-0 win at Arlington.
Lewis (2-1) pitched 5 2-3 innings, allowing two runs and seven hits while striking out six. The right-hander, making his fourth start after missing 1 1/2 seasons because of operations on his elbow and hip, was lifted after issuing his only walk.
It was the fourth straight game in which a Rangers starter failed to get through the sixth. Lewis was working on an extra day of rest after the rotation was set up to have him avoid next week’s interleague series in Colorado.
Joakim Soria, the sixth Rangers pitcher, worked a perfect ninth for his seventh save, ending Texas’ four-game losing streak. Choo left in the seventh because of soreness in his left ankle.
Angels No. 9 hitter J.B. Shuck, fighting a 2-for-30 slump, drove in the game’s first run with a two-out bunt single that hugged the third base line all the way to the bag. Howie Kendrick made it 2-0 in the fourth with an RBI single after Shuck singled with two outs and stole second.
NOTES: Angels RHP Mike Morin struck out the side in the eighth inning in his second big league appearance. … The Angels recalled INF Grant Green from Triple-A Salt Lake, filling the roster spot vacated when RHP Yoslan Herrera was optioned to the Bees after Wednesday’s win over Cleveland. The club didn’t have to make a corresponding move until Friday.