CHICAGO -- The so-called "governor" that capped Angels starter Ervin Santana for his last start at a max of 15 outs was removed for his start on Saturday night against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia might prefer to give the 15-out limit another whirl with Santana -- who won his previous start in Texas -- but the bullpen was in no shape to afford doing it.
The Angels are down two regulars with injuries to Jordan Walden and Scott Downs and the bullpen had worked 15 1/3 innings in the previous five games -- including 2 1/3 innings split among four relievers in Friday night's 8-6, 10-inning loss.
"[Santana's] got to go as long as he can," Scioscia said prior to Santana working six innings of a 6-5, 10-inning victory.. "He'll go as long as he can. I think there was some value on him focusing on 15 outs, but we just can't afford to do that right now."
The bullpen situation is the reason and a long start by Santana could go a long way toward helping the Angels get through the next few weeks -- when the hope is to get Walden and Downs back. Walden is further along in his recovery from soreness in his neck and biceps tendinitis, while Downs won't pick up a ball to start any kind of throwing motion until Monday.
Meanwhile, Scioscia has his eyes on the starting staff, hoping it can get back to going deeper in games.
"This gets back to our starting pitching, as the starting pitchers can pitch to a certain point in the game," Scioscia said. "If you look at our last [20 or so] starts, I think we're only averaging maybe 17 outs. That's a big difference from the projection of what these guys had done earlier, when they were getting routinely 20-22 outs. If we get our starting pitching reset and start getting some length with our starting pitching, then I think the bullpen will reset and we'll be fine."
Getting the left-handed Downs (strained left shoulder) healthy enough to pitch again would also be a huge boost, simply because he's a key part of the bullpen. Without Downs available, the only left-hander is Hisanori Takahashi -- who took the loss on Friday night after allowing a leadoff infield single to Adam Dunn in the 10th.
"It's tough right now," veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins said. "We really need Downs back. Walden's great, too, but we really need Downs back. In different situations, he's a special lefty that you can't replace. When I'm down, I'm replaceable. Downs is not replaceable. We need Scott Downs."
Wells gets rare start, adjusting to limited role
CHICAGO -- Sensing an opportunity to give Torii Hunter a night off, Angels manager Mike Scioscia opted to start Vernon Wells in left field and Mike Trumbo in right while using Kendry Morales as the designated hitter on Saturday night.
The switch caused some red flags to go up, but Scioscia said it's nothing more than giving Hunter a break after playing well in hot Texas weather followed by Friday night's 10-inning game against the White Sox.
Hunter has logged hits in 12 of the last 13 games while batting .426 with 12 RBIs in that span. He's also brought his season average to .294, which is the highest it's been since May. Hunter also scorched the Rangers in a four-game series by recording three straight multi-RBI games.
"In Texas, he played well and played a lot and it was hot," Scioscia said. "Last night's night, got a day-night coming up, it's good to get him off his feet for a day and get him out there tomorrow. He's available. More of a preventative thing. This is more of a recharge day for Torii and he's going to be available."
As for Wells, once an everday regular, it's an opportunity to start after seeing his role diminished following a thumb injury that kept him out from May 20 to July 27 -- his sixth career DL stint. In three previous games Wells played since returning from the injury, he went 0-for-11 with two strikeouts.
"It's different, but it's what my role is at this point," said Wells, who isn't feeling any lingering pain in the thumb. "I've accepted it and you get an opportunity to help out in different areas now. You just do whatever you can. If you see something watching games, you try to be a good teammate and an extra set of eyes if you see something going on. But every day is just a new day, come out and prepare and whenever you get a chance to get in the game hopefully produce."
As for his new role, Wells said it's been an eye-opening experience.
"You have a greater appreciation for guys who don't get to play every day," Wells said. "It's a different role for sure. It's a different way of preparing yourself. Every day is an adjustment."Wells ended 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the Angels' 6-5, 10-inning win.
Protest filed, Scioscia adamant in stating case
CHICAGO -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia confirmed on Saturday that his team officially filed a protest of Friday night's 8-6, 10-inning loss to the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field because of a controversial play in the first inning.
The White Sox had the bases loaded with no outs when Paul Konerko hit a ground ball to third base. Alberto Callaspo fielded it and threw home to get a force out before catcher Chris Iannetta threw wide to first attempting to double up Konerko, who was ruled safe after Albert Pujols was pulled off the bag by a wide throw.
Scioscia argued that Konerko's path to first base took him into Iannetta's throwing lane, which he contends should be an automatic out. Instead, the White Sox were only charged one out and proceeded to score four runs against Zack Greinke after an RBI single and three-run home run.
Scioscia's conviction hadn't lessened a day later.
"What they can and could change, and should change, is the fact that the judgement was, 'Was he inside the line? Yes. Was he in the lane? Yes.' Now it's assumed that he absolutely was affecting the throw of the fielder, because he was in the lane and was in jeopardy of the throw," Scioscia said. "It's not even being disputed by the umpires. They're saying the throw was bad, so they're not going to make a call ... which has no logic to it at all."
Iannetta said Saturday that he did alter the throw wide to the left of Konerko because of his path to the base.
"I know I had to adjust where I'd throw," Iannetta said. "Normally, I'd throw to Albert on the base and he'd be at the base, but just the fact that he was pulled off the bag by the throw was an indication of how I had to alter it. I didn't want to take the chance of throwing at the runner, so I threw it around him and pulled Albert off the bag."
Scioscia was asked what he thought would've been called had Iannetta hit Konerko in the back with his throw.
"I think if he would've hit him in the back, they absolutely would've made the call," the former catcher said. "But it's not contingent on that. The interpretation of the rule is not contingent on if you hit the runner. It's contingent on the parameters that [the umpiring crew] already set. That's my whole argument. The parameters they set call for that guy to be called out [from] what they told me, and that's what the protest is about."
Iannetta hangs tough during exciting inning
CHICAGO -- Angels catcher Chris Iannetta had quite the first inning from the defensive standpoint during Friday night's 8-6, 10-inning loss to the White Sox at U.S.Cellular Field.
Not only was he directly involved in a disputed play the Angels are officially protesting with Major League Baseball, but one batter later, he was knocked to the ground by 6-foot-6, 285-pound White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn -- who was trying to score from second base on a single to left field.
Iannetta, who wasn't injured on the play and held onto the ball for the out, is listed at six feet, 230 pounds.
"I knew who it was [running]," Iannetta said. "I played against Adam for a long time and played with him in the [World Baseball Classic]. He's a great guy. I knew who was running."
Iannetta didn't, however, immediately know the status of his body or equipment.
"I felt fine. I was surprised," Iannetta said. "I popped up and did a quick little systems check to make sure everything was in the right place ... arms, legs, ribs. [Everything] came out OK."
Iannetta also made sure to thank Dunn before the slugger's next at-bat for not lowering his shoulder with intent to harm.
"He could've really lowered his shoulder and crushed me and I thanked him for not doing that," Iannetta said. "I was in the air. I never played football. Maybe that counts, I don't know. [I thanked him] during the game, his next at-bat, 'Thanks for not really crushing me.'"
Iannetta was replaced by a pinch-runner in the eighth inning, but it wasn't because of any injury. He started Saturday night's game behind the plate.
Brian Hedger is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.