Ervin Santana on pace to allow third-most homers of all time

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Ervin Santana and Coors Field is a match made in homer-allowing heaven and sure enough the Angels right-hander served up two more long balls versus the Rockies yesterday.

(He also got the “win” while allowing seven runs in 5.2 innings, because pitcher “wins” are hilarious.)

Santana has now allowed 18 homers in 80 innings spread over 13 starts, which puts him on pace to allow 46 homers on the season. That would tie Santana for the third-highest total in baseball history:

Bert Blyleven     1986     50
Jose Lima         2000     48
Bronson Arroyo    2011     46
Bert Blyleven     1987     46
Robin Roberts     1956     46

Four pitchers (including Bert Blyleven twice) have allowed more than 45 homers in a season. Two of them are in the Hall of Fame and the other two are both former All-Stars. Santana is also a former All-Star and he’s been a very solid starter for the Angels during the past seven seasons, throwing nearly 1,300 innings with a 4.22 ERA.

That includes a 3.38 ERA in 229 innings last season and a 3.92 ERA in 223 innings in 2010, so Santana’s decline to a 5.74 ERA is both homer-fueled and unexpected. Prior to this season his career-high for homers allowed was 27 and he’d served up an average of 25 homers per 200 innings. And now he’s allowed 18 in 80 innings and been bad enough that projecting his season total of 46 requires the leap of faith that he’ll actually remain in the Angels’ rotation all year.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.