Santana gets a break, in one regard. The Angels have an off-day on Monday, meaning he'll have an extra day to prepare for his next start on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium against the Twins. He can expect a big reception from his hometown fans, who haven't had a no-hitter to applaud since 1990 when Mark Langston and Mike Witt combined on a gem. They had to wait six months to congratulate Witt after his perfect game on Sept. 30, 1984, which closed the season in Texas. That was the last solo no-hitter by an Angels pitcher, an act Nolan Ryan performed four times before departing Orange County for Houston.
The aftermath of his biggest day as a professional was emotional for Santana, who acknowledged that he'd dedicated his performance to a cousin, Ruben Corporan, who died last month in the Dominican Republic.
Santana isn't one to wear his feelings on his sleeves, but it was evident that it weighed heavily on him. This made his masterful 10-strikeout, one-walk performance all the more remarkable.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia took a look at some video before Thursday's matinee against the Tigers, and it affirmed what he'd seen live: Santana was about as good as he's ever been. But he's been moving in that direction for more than a month, with a string of solid efforts, only a few of which have been rewarded with victories.
"He's pitched some great games for us when he's had great command like that and didn't pitch a no-hitter," Scioscia said. "I don't think we've seen Ervin with better command, but he's had similar command. I think he's been very consistent."
Santana is 6-8 with a 3.47 ERA in 148 innings, striking out 123 while walking 40 and holding hitters to a .237 batting average. Those numbers would suggest a record closer to Haren's 10-6 than 6-8. The run support simply has not been there for Santana, who won a career-high 17 games last season.
"You're not going to match that fastball command and put it together every time out," Scioscia said. "But he's pitched well; he really has. A lot of things came together. But it's not like there was any metamorphosis. His stuff was similar to some games we've seen from him."