Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 5/16/12
ANAHEIM, Calif. Even when things were at their worst, Ervin Santana remained steady. He never changed his stuff, never lost his confidence, never blamed the Angels' offense for his string of losses. He just kept pitching. Santana figured it would pay off; he just didn't know when. But now he's won two starts in a row, and maybe it's a sign that the Angels are finding some stability. Pitching is surely going to carry them. Despite a lineup that looks formidable on paper, they continue to struggle at the plate. You don't dismiss your hitting coach -- which the Angels did Monday when Mickey Hatcher was fired after a 4-0 win over the Oakland A's -- if your offense is producing. The Angels rank near the bottom of the American League in runs and total bases, and they've been shut out a league high eight times. A change was called for. It's their pitching that has carried them, and specifically their starting pitching that has provided the best results. Angels starters rank third in the AL in ERA (3.70) and second in opponents batting average (.235). Now that Santana looks back to his old self, there is little doubt the team will go as after as the starters take them. Santana is 2-6, but he's pitched seven innings or more and given up three earned runs or fewer in each of his past four starts. He served up 10 home runs in his first four starts but has allowed just two in his past four. The difference? "Nothing," he said. "I just keep pitching the same way I've been pitching the whole year and things changed. I just had a few rough outings and now it's time to move on and get better." Santana pitched as well Monday as he has all season. He gave up one hit through the first five innings and retired 16 consecutive batters at one point. Even when he loaded the bases after a hit and two walks, he struck out A's left fielder Seth Smith to end the inning. "He's executing," Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick said. "He's making good pitches and getting outs. Not that he wasn't going after guys earlier, but his command has been on point. If you see what he's been doing, he's been getting a lot of ground ball outs. That's what the difference is. "He's been lights out." Fastball command was Santana's biggest problem early in the season, but he now has that under control. He struck out nine A's, and although he walked three batters, he didn't give up a big hit. Best of all, he receiving offensive support. The Angels were shut out five times in a row during Santana's starts, but they scored six in his last start and four Monday, including a home run from rookie Mike Trout. Albert Pujols didn't get the ball out of the infield, but he had three infield singles, drove in two runs and got his batting average above the Mendoza line (.212) for the first time in 12 days. Even during those dreadful times, Santana's spirits stayed high. "Ervin has a pretty even heartbeat," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He doesn't get too high or too low. But inside, there's definitely a competitive mechanism he has. He wants to contribute, no doubt. He's getting a chance to." It's about time. Say this for Santana: He never blamed anyone for his tough luck. He just kept throwing and waiting for things to turn around. "It's tough," he said. "But at the same time, you see that your teammates are doing everything to try and score runs. At this point, we got runs today and I was very happy for the team and for me, too."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Chris Bosh joining TNT as analyst

Cameron Payne will have chance to shine with Bulls

Danny Ainge opens up about why Celtics didn’t make a trade before deadline

Kevin Durant wants to be NBA GM or owner after playing career

Report: Mavericks discussing buyout with Deron Williams

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

T-Wolves reportedly backed away from Ricky Rubio-Derrick Rose trade

DeMarcus Cousins calls duo with Anthony Davis ‘Fire and Ice’

Reasons why 76ers got so little for Nerlens Noel emerge

John Lynch: 49ers ‘absolutely’ need to improve at QB position

Report: Raptors trade Jared Sullinger, two future picks to Suns for P.J. Tucker

Report: Pacers halt trade talks, will keep Paul George

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Box Score 2/23: Gillon's buzzer-beater blast for the win

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

Box Score 2/22: Not everyone is happy with the new intentional walk rule

Teams and players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win the MVP award

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker