By about the sixth inning I was scrambling to my computer hoping I wasn't too late. I quickly logged into my Yahoo! fantasy baseball league and let out an audible sigh of relief. Ervin Santana was still available. Heck, I didn't even have to drop anyone as I had an open DL spot waiting for another player.
Of course, Santana winning at the Big A is nothing new. He's damn near unbeatable in his home ballpark. Problem is, he's been VERY beatable everywhere else and last season he really wasn't good anywhere, hence the demotion to Triple-A and stints coming out of the bullpen. But coming into tonight's start he was 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA and had pitched really well on the road. And tonight's start showed me something more. He looked confident and attacked the hitters with mostly his fastball the first time through the lineup. When he got ahead 0-2, he wasn't dancing around the zone wasting pitches, he continued to throw strikes and dared the batters to put it in play (oftentimes they couldn't) -- he flat-out dominated a team that hits the ball the pretty well at Angel Stadium. Eight innings, three hits, eight strikeouts and one earned run. Oh, and a 3-0 record on the season.
It seems like forever ago, but in 2006, Ervin went 16-8 with a 4.28 ERA and looked to be on his way to becoming a mainstay in the Angels rotation. I guess after a season like the one he had last year (7-14, 5.76) it becomes easy to forget the promise and talent we all witnessed his first two seasons in the league. He had a clunker of a season...it happens. Especially to young pitchers, and that is exactly what Ervin Santana was and still is. He's only 25 and now in his fourth big league season and it appears he's figuring it out. Great news for Angels fans, bad news for the rest of the AL.