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Angels ship RHP Ervin Santana to Royals in trade

Angels ship RHP Ervin Santana to Royals in trade

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Angels traded pitcher Ervin Santana to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday for minor league left-hander Brandon Sisk.

The Angels exercised Santana's $13 million option for next season before sending the 2008 All-Star and $1 million to the Royals.

``We're proud to have him, and he certainly fits with what we're doing in 2013,'' Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore said.

Santana has been a fixture in Los Angeles' rotation since 2005, going 96-80 with a 4.33 ERA while starting at least 23 games in eight consecutive seasons. He has spent his entire career with the Angels, who signed him as a free agent in 2000 and nurtured his development into a solid starter of 96 games over the past three years.

But Santana struggled for much of last season, going 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA while giving up a major league-worst 39 homers despite significant improvements over the final two months.

``I have to realize that this is a business,'' Santana said, citing Kauffman Stadium as one of his favorite ballparks in the majors. ``I just have to accept it and move on. It's going to be hard because I've known my teammates for a long time, but now I'm going to have new teammates. I can't wait to meet them in person and hang out.''

Santana's woes and Dan Haren's similarly slow start were major factors in the Angels' midseason struggles, prompting them to make a trade for Zack Greinke and ultimately keeping them out of the playoffs for the third straight season.

``I don't have any physical problems,'' Santana said. ``Everything was good. I just have bad luck. I was pitching good, and I didn't have the opportunity to win a lot of games.''

With rising starter Garrett Richards already slated for the Angels' rotation in 2013 alongside ace Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and hopefully Greinke, Santana has long realized he might be headed out of Orange County.

``Ervin had a lot of really great moments with the Angels, and has always been an Angel,'' said Los Angeles GM Jerry Dipoto, who just finished his first season with the club. ``This is just the start of something new for Ervin, and we wish him well.''

In their annual hunt for starting pitching, the Royals made a similar deal last November for Jonathan Sanchez, giving up Melky Cabrera for the San Francisco starter who was expected to anchor their rotation. But Sanchez was a complete flameout, going 1-6 with a 7.76 ERA in 12 starts before getting designated for assignment and eventually traded to Colorado.

Moore wasn't shy about dealing for Santana with just a year left on his contract, saying he hadn't discussed a long-term extension with the right-hander.

``We were able to scout Ervin during the entire year, specifically the second half,'' Moore said. ``His August and September were really good. From a statistical standpoint, he was very good.''

Santana, who will turn 30 in December, has shown moments of brilliance in his career, which includes three seasons with at least 16 victories and an All-Star selection. He threw a no-hitter in 2011 and a one-hitter last season, yet confounded the Angels with his inconsistencies in 2012.

``Ervin struggled out of the chute,'' Dipoto said. ``I think his struggles were more relative to his command than his physical stuff. Once he determined that his issue was command, he throttled back his fastball a little bit and tried to gain command of his slider and pitched very well for us. To say Ervin's season was a failure would be unfair. Ervin's season was very uneven, and he took it down the stretch and gave us an opportunity to be in the race until the final week of the season.''

The Angels are more interested in developing Richards and attempting to re-sign Greinke, who went 6-2 with a 3.53 ERA during his impressive but brief stint with Los Angeles.

The Angels haven't announced whether they'll pick up Haren's $15.5 million option for next season before Friday's deadline, and Dipoto gave no hints Wednesday. The club is thought to be shopping Haren, who had a career-worst 4.33 ERA and spent time on the disabled list for the first time.

Sisk spent last season with Triple-A Omaha, going 3-2 with a 2.54 ERA and eight saves. He's pitching in the Venezuelan winter league and has never pitched in the majors, but Dipoto is eager to see what the 27-year-old can do in spring training.

Los Angeles could use any bullpen help after a mostly dismal season.

``He's always had the deceptive ability to miss bats,'' Dipoto said. ``He's done it at every minor league level, and hasn't had the opportunity to showcase it in the big leagues. We don't know if that's going to happen. Worst-case scenario is we're building much-needed depth and building toward creating a little bigger fishnet (in the minors).''

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5 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning in Game 6

5 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning in Game 6

After losing three straight, the Capitals battled back in Game 6 on Monday. With their 3-0 win, Washington forced the Eastern Conference Final into a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday.

Here is how the Caps did it.

1. Braden Holtby matched Andrei Vasilevskiy save for save

Andrei Vasilevskiy was just as great in this game as he was in the three previous, but one of the major differences in this one was that Holtby was just as good. He may not have been tested as much (Vasilevskiy made 32 saves, Holtby 24), but he was big when the team needed.

In the second period with the scored tied at 0, Holtby made one of the most critical saves perhaps of the entire season when he denied Anthony Cirelli with the toe on a 2-on-1. When the Caps took the lead, Holtby really shut the door in the third period with 10 saves to cap off what was his fifth career playoff shutout and first shutout of the entire season.

2. T.J. Oshie’s timely goal

Over halfway into the game, it looked like it was just going to be one of those nights. Caps fans know it well by now. Washington outplays their opponent, they get chance after chance and develop a whopping advantage in shots, but they run into a hot goalie and a random play suddenly turns into a goal for the other team, game and season over.

Vasilevskiy was on his way to having perhaps his best performance of the series. Considering how he played in the three games prior to Game 6, that’s saying something. The Caps were doing everything right, but he continued to make save after save. Then on the power play in the second period, John Carlson struck the inside of the post, the horn went off and the roar of the crowd gave way to dismay as the referee waved his arms to indicate there was no goal and play continued. Just seconds later, T.J. Oshie gave the Caps the 1-0 lead.

You have to wonder if doubt was starting to creep into the back of the minds of the players when that puck struck the post as they wondered what else they had to do to beat Vasilevskiy. Luckily, that feeling didn’t last long.

3. Special teams

Braydon Coburn’s tripping penalty in the second period gave Washington its only power play of the night and its first since the second period of Game 4. They had to make it count given how well Vasilveskiy was playing and they did.

Washington now has a power play goal in each of their three wins against the Lightning and no power play goals in their three losses. So yeah, it’s significant.

Tampa Bay had two opportunities of their own, but Washington managed to kill off both power plays in the penalty kill’s best performance of the series.

4. Washington’s physical game plan

On paper, the Lightning are better than the Caps in most categories. One area in which Washington has the edge, however, is physical play and it was clear very early that they intended to use that to their advantage in Game 6. Tampa Bay was pushed around and they seemed to struggle to recover.

Ovechkin was a one-man wrecking ball out there hitting everything that moved. The energy he brought with every hit was palpable and both the team and the crowd fed on it.

Washington was credited with 39 hits on the night compared to Tampa Bay’s 19. Ovechkin had four of those as did Nicklas Backstrom while Devante Smith-Pelly contributed five and Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six.

5. Fourth line dagger

Tampa Bay’s fourth line was the story of Game 5, but Washington’s fourth line sealed the deal on Monday with its third period goal.

Chandler Stephenson beat out an icing call, forcing Braydon Coburn to play the puck along the wall. Jay Beagle picked it up, fed back to Stephenson who backhanded a pass for the perfect setup for Devante Smith-Pelly.

Smith-Pelly scored seven goals in the regular season. He now has four in the playoffs.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

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