OAKLAND -- There were times in his career, usually in odd-numbered seasons for some odd reason, when Ervin Santana would let things bother him. A borderline strike he needed would be a ball. A pop fly would drop between several teammates. A double play wouldn't be turned.
Santana would quietly stew, and he frequently would pay for it with the wrong pitch at the wrong time to the wrong hitter, turning a close game into a blowout.
"When I was younger and trying to prove myself, I did let things get to me," Santana said. "It took time, but I learned to let go of those things. When you accomplish some things and everybody knows what you can do, you can relax and just focus on executing pitches.
"I'm trying to make things easier when it's not easy. I'm trying to keep it simple, work quick and throw it in the right spots. If they hit it, there's nothing else you can do. Sometimes you make a good pitch and they hit it. Sometimes you throw one down the middle and they pop it up. Sometimes a teammate makes an error -- that's OK. Move on to the next hitter, try to get a double play."
Santana is 14-9 heading into Sunday's series finale against the A's, a team he has controlled (11-3, 1.73 ERA). His season ERA is 4.05, but rightfully it should be 3.95. A popup fell between two infielders and was ruled a hit in his most recent start in Seattle, costing Santana a shot at a shutout and two earned runs that should have been unearned. That's life, he now understands.
"There's definitely been a maturing process with Ervin," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "The biggest adjustment was going from pitching at 94-95 [mph] when he first came up. Now he's pitching at 91, 92, and he's having a terrific season. He's going to keep growing."