Just ask the Chicago White Sox.
Santiago threw seven innings of five-hit ball against his former club, and the Angels beat Chicago 7-0 on Friday night.
It was the second time this season Santiago blanked the White Sox 7-0. He has tossed 14 spotless innings against them, but given up 54 runs over 91 1/3 innings in his other 17 starts.
"There's always a little bit more competitiveness, for sure," Santiago said.
"You want to get back at them, get yourself to another level against your old team. When they come in, there's no doubt that I kind of step my game up."
The left-hander did exactly that once again, striking out seven without issuing a walk Friday. Los Angeles supported him with two runs in the second and five in the seventh.
Santiago (7-4) has been pitching particularly well of late. He has not allowed an earned run in his last 22 innings.
Chicago's offense has been going in the opposite direction. The White Sox have not scored in their last 23 innings, and they were shut out in consecutive games for the first time this season.
"We didn't swing, and we didn't play that good of defense, either, but I thought (Santiago) threw well, too," manager Robin Ventura. "You tip your cap.
"Coming back from the break, you expect the guys to swing a little bit better. It's just one day."
The Angels are 38-52 on the season, 15 1/2 games back of first-place Texas in the AL West. They are expected to deal veterans before the trade deadline, and Santiago's name has been prominently mentioned.
Santiago insisted he shrugs it all off.
"That's what you have to do," he said. "You can't control that part of the game. You just come out here and try to throw the ball well. Hopefully you can be here all year with guys you grinded through all spring and all season.
"I just try to sit back, have fun, come out here and do my job every day, and whatever happens, happens."
The first five Angels hitters in the seventh scored against four different White Sox pitchers.
"We just kept pounding the ball in that seventh inning," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. "Good situational hitting. Guys put the ball in play, used the whole field, good job with runners in scoring position, and ran the bases aggressively."
Four of the Angels' nine hits were doubles, one each by Kole Calhoun, Geovany Soto, Daniel Nava and Jefry Marte. Andrelton Simmons also singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.
The Angels have won five of their last seven games.
"I thought he threw well enough to win a game, but we didn't swing very well," Ventura said. "(Santiago) coming off the break was sharp."
Gonzalez has not won a road game since beating Tampa Bay on July 25, 2015. He tossed seven shutout innings against the Yankees in his previous start.
White Sox: 1B Justin Morneau was called up from his rehab stint at Triple-A and added to the roster. The 35-year-old Morneau had offseason surgery to repair the primary flexor in his right elbow. Chicago signed him June 9 to a one-year contract.
Angels: Despite a brilliant outing Thursday for Triple-A Salt Lake (seven scoreless innings, one hit, 14 strikeouts), LHP Tyler Skaggs (Tommy John surgery, shoulder tightness) will make at least one additional rehab start before joining the rotation, Scioscia said. ... LHP C.J. Wilson had surgery to repair fraying within his labrum and rotator cuff, the team said.
White Sox: RHP James Shields (4-10) is scheduled to make his eighth start Saturday night since coming to Chicago in a June 4 trade with the Padres. He is 2/3 with a 7.68 ERA for the White Sox, but 2-1 with a 2.21 ERA in his last three starts.
Angels: RHP Matt Shoemaker (4-9) is 2-4 with a 2.67 ERA in his last 10 starts.
MLB free-agency tracker: Latest moves, grades and analysis
Need to keep tabs on all the major signings? Want to know how our experts grade the big deals? We've got you covered.
What happens to Marcus Semien's fantasy value in Texas?
Tristan H. Cockcroft explains the fantasy implications of Marcus Semien signing as a free agent with the Texas Rangers.
Kevin Gausman's best moments from the 2021 season
Check out the best highlights from Kevin Gausman's 2021 season as he signs a 5-year deal with the Blue Jays.
Kevin Gausman finds new home, agrees with Toronto Blue Jays on $110 million contract, sources say
Starting pitcher Kevin Gausman, a key component to the San Francisco Giants' rotation last season, agreed to a five-year, $110 million deal Sunday with the Toronto Blue Jays, sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan.
MLB free-agency grades: Texas Rangers bet big on their future with Marcus Semien signing
Marcus Semien inked a seven-year deal with a Rangers team that won 60 games last year. Will they turn it around in time to take advantage of Semien's prime?
Minnesota Twins, Byron Buxton find perfect balance in incentive-laden deal
Buxton was one of the best players on the planet last season when he wasn't on the injured list. It's for that reason that his $100 million extension is a gamble, but a worthy one.