Hector Santiago hasn't given the Angels seven-inning starts or put up big strikeout numbers. He's simply been effective.
Santiago, who hasn't gone more than six innings since April, has a 1.19 ERA over his last four starts and will test his hot streak against Minnesota on Thursday. He will also try to extend the Angels' 4 1/2-game lead over the A's in the American League West.
In his most recent start, against Miami on Aug. 27, Santiago went 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out six and walking two.
With that win, Santiago lowered his WHIP and opponents' batting average over his last four starts to 1.059 and .200, respectively. After beginning the season 0-7, he has not lost since June 15.
"Every time I went out, I put more and more pressure on myself," Santiago said. "I just kept putting added pressure on myself, like I have to prove myself here. I'm the new guy, I have to earn my spot."
Because of season-ending injuries to Tyler Skaggs and Garrett Richards, Santiago has taken on a larger role in the Angels' rotation and has performed much differently.
"In Spring Training and at the start of the season, he was trying to throw the ball 106 mph with every pitch," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "As the season started to go the wrong way, I think he tried to throw the ball 107 mph."
The Twins will counter with right-hander Kyle Gibson, who threw five one-run innings on Saturday at Baltimore. He also surrendered four hits and three walks, but he struck out six.
Gibson's last start was much different than the four that preceded it, as he gave up exactly five runs on three occasions. He said that a fix in his mechanics made the outing better and that the main thing he took away was that he was able to escape trouble.
"When I don't have my best stuff, I can go out there and get outs, and I think that was important," Gibson said. "They made me work hard, but I didn't give in. I was able to limit the damage."
Angels: Shoemaker earns August accolades
Right-hander Matt Shoemaker was named both the American League Pitcher of the Month and Rookie of the Month after a stellar 6-1 August.
Shoemaker posted a 1.31 ERA and 0.77 WHIP and carried a 23 1/3-inning scoreless streak into September. He became just the ninth player (and third pitcher) to win Rookie of the Month and Player/Pitcher of the Month honors.
Shoemaker is scheduled to start on Friday against Minnesota.
Twins: Pinto back as better defender
After a stint in Triple-A Rochester, Josmil Pinto on Wednesday was given his first start behind the plate since June 8, as manager Ron Gardenhire received favorable reports on Pinto's defense.
"It's better," Gardenhire said. "Throwing, game-calling, the whole package. He's been working on his mechanics. But it's still a work in progress. He works very hard at it."
Gardenhire said that Rochester's coaching staff specifically worked with Pinto on his footwork behind the plate, which was an issue for him early in the season.
"Mechanically, he was getting really violent and his head was jerking," he said, "so we had to clean that up. It was basically footwork and getting his arm in the right spot."
• The Angels swept the Twins when they met in Anaheim in June.
• Scioscia and Gardenhire are the two longest-tenured managers in the AL.
Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.