"I was making good pitches," Santana said, the Angels having clipped the Cubs, 6-5, at HoHoKam Park on Friday before the usual overflow crowd of Cubs partisans. "Sometimes you make great pitches ... and don't get a strike. You don't get frustrated. You just keep pitching."
His manager, Mike Scioscia, wholeheartedly endorsed Santana's assessment of his 75-pitch effort.
"Today [Santana] was terrific," Scioscia said. "He pitched a lot better than his linescore. He threw some good changeups, his fastball location was good and his breaking ball was there. He's close [to ready]."
Santana struck out five hitters, walking one.
"To me, that was not a walk," Santana said, shaking his head. "The [two-strike] pitch before [ball four to leadoff man Eric Patterson in the first inning] was a strike."
Doubles by Alfonso Soriano and Derrek Lee and a single by Aramis Ramirez had the Cubbies leading, 3-0, before Santana had an out, but he settled down and gave up only two hits the rest of the way.
"Once he got his feet on the ground, he was good ... very good," Scioscia said.
As for his ERA, which was shaved to 7.90, Santana was unconcerned.
"You come here to work," he said. "I'm not ready for the season yet. The last game here, and then the start of the season, that's when I'll be ready."
Santana said he felt strong enough to have gone deeper than five innings.
"Everything was perfect," he said, grinning.
Santana leads the staff with 15 2/3 innings. He has yielded 17 hits and three walks, striking out 11 men.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.