Ervin Santana Returns to All-Star Form Against Oakland A's

travis proctorCorrespondent IJuly 17, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 8:  Pitcher Ervin Santana #54 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim throws a pitch against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium July 8, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Angels finally got the pitching performance they have been waiting for this season. Ervin Santana who struggled mightily through the first half came out guns blazing Thursday night.

Last year Santana had an outstanding season for the Angels and even made his first career All-Star appearance. This year has been the complete opposite for Santana.

While their has been a lot of talk about the Angels trying to add another starter before the trade deadline, Santana's performance on Thursday could have given the Angels the extra starter they were looking for.

Santana went eight innings on Thursday giving up only one run on a solo home run in the seventh. Santana struck out four and only walked two.

While Santana was by no means overpowering on Thursday, he showed excellent command and used his defense very well. While he is still recovering from early season injuries, Santana hasn't yet retained his full velocity.

If his performance on Thursday is any sign of things to come in the second half the Angels have to be feeling good. With Santana pitching like that the Angels have four very strong starters with a fifth still to be determined.

Jared Weaver has had an excellent season, and while Joe Saunders has struggled lately, the Angels' staff is confident he will find his stride again. With Lackey pitching well in his last few starts, the Angels might be answering their own questions.

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With the hopeful return of Kelvim Escobar to help solidify the bullpen the Angels could be in excellent shape for a big second half run.

Since Torii Hunter and Vlad Guerrero have been put on the DL the Angels are 4-0 which is a great sign. Many people thought once those two went on the DL the Angels would tank and give up ground to the Rangers. The Angels have done anything but that, putting up 35 runs in the four games without their stars.

A lot of pressure has been put on the Angels young stars this season and while they struggled at the start of the season they have come around nicely in the past few months.

With Kendry Morales and Mike Napoli providing much needed power for the Angels and Santana putting on a clinic Thursday, the Angels are looking like the team everyone thought they would be.  

While there is still a lot of baseball left this season Angels fans have to be pleased with what they have seen over the past month. After all the Angels have gone through this season you have to give credit to their resiliency which is a direct reflection of their leader Mike Scioscia.

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