He's considered one of the best young pitchers in the American League.
And he's a primary target for the Orioles if they were to trade shortstop Miguel Tejada.
But there's a disconcerting trend surrounding Ervin Santana, the Los Angeles Angels' 23-year-old right-hander, in his first 51 major league starts.
Santana, who was offered to the Orioles in July along with shortstop prospect Erick Aybar for Tejada, has pitched terribly on the road.
Last season, Santana, who won 12 games overall, was 9-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 14 starts at Angel Stadium and 3-5 with a 7.43 ERA in nine starts away from it. This year, he's 9-2 with a 3.17 ERA in 15 starts at home and 5-5 with a 6.39 ERA in 14 road outings. Opponents are hitting .224 against him in Anaheim and .271 on the road.
"There's no explanation for it. I can't put a finger on it," Angels pitching coach Bud Black said. "I wish I could explain it. I can't. I just want him to let it go. I don't want him to think about it. We all feel he's going to pitch well every time out, whether he's home or on the road."
Santana said he does nothing differently away from home. In fact, in his last road start in Detroit, he said he felt "unhittable" warming up in the bullpen, but then gave up five runs in four innings when it counted.
"I just pitch. I don't know how to explain it," Santana said. "I don't worry about it, I don't think about it, and I don't care about it."
But do the Orioles, who play in a more offensive-friendly ballpark than the Angels, worry how Santana will pitch outside Anaheim? We'll see this offseason.
A different Hermanson
Chicago White Sox reliever Dustin Hermanson made his season debut last week after being sidelined for nearly a year with lower back trouble. The former closer's velocity is down to the high 80s from the mid-90s, but he said he's using different arm angles and his fastball now has more movement. He'll be used only an inning at a time but he gives the White Sox a rested veteran arm for the stretch run.
One more game
Cleveland Indians rookie Jeremy Sowers will make one more start, Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals, and then be shut down for the year. In just his second pro season, the 2005 first-rounder has pitched more than 180 innings between Triple-A Buffalo and the Indians, compiling a record of 16-4.
Minnesota Twins left-hander Johan Santana is not only going for the American League pitching Triple Crown (wins, strikeouts and lowest qualifying ERA), but he is also two-thirds of an inning behind Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay for most innings pitched heading into today's starts. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last time a pitcher led the league in all four categories in a season was the Los Angeles Dodgers' Sandy Koufax in 1966.
Internet betting site Pinnacle- Sports.com has installed New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter as the favorite to win the AL Most Valuable Player Award at 3-2 odds, slightly ahead of the Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz (2-1). ... Remember when there was concern about the Texas Rangers' Mark Teixeira's lack of power in early July? He has led the AL in homers (18 going into Friday) since the All-Star break. ... Dmitri Young, cut last week by the Detroit Tigers, is only 32 and can still hit. But his weight is up again and he's difficult, something the Tigers tired of during a pennant race. He'll be a free agent this winter.