Johan Santana is struggling since his no-hitter

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Did the 134 pitches take a toll? After getting lit up by the Yankees last week, Johan Santana gave up four runs in five-plus innings Thursday versus the Rays in his second start since his no-hitter.

The 134 pitches Santana threw in shutting down the Cardinals were a career high for the left-hander, who was handled carefully during the first two months in his first season back from shoulder surgery. Pitching on six days’ rest last Friday, he gave up six runs and four homers in five innings in a loss to the Yankees. Today, working on five days’ rest, he got a win, but he allowed four runs in five-plus innings.

It actually should have been worse. Santana loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth, giving up a single to Hideki Matsui, a double to Ben Zobrist and a walk to Matt Joyce. Jon Rauch took over and managed to strand all three runners by getting two strikeouts and then a groundout.

Santana threw just 51 of his 95 pitches for strikes in this one. He issued four walks, his second highest total of the season (he walked five in the no-hitter).

Santana’s ERA has jumped from 2.38 to 3.23 since the no-no and would be higher if not for Rauch’s effort. The Mets have to be hoping its an aberration, not a trend. Santana and R.A. Dickey have been an outstanding one-two punch so far, but Santana needs to return to May form to keep that up.

Angels sign Chris Young to one-year deal

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The Angels went on a Chris binge yesterday. In addition to signing Chris Carter to a minor league deal they signed Chris Young — the outfielder Chris Young, not the pitcher Chris Young — to a one-year contract. Young will make $2 million with incentives that could make the pact more valuable.

Young, 34, hit .235/.322/.387 with seven home runs in a part-time role last season with the Red Sox. He’s historically been a plus defender and has handled all three outfield positions in the past, but he’s really a corner guy/platoon DH these days. Not that the Angels need a center fielder. Rumor has it that they have a pretty decent one.