Zack every bit as good as Angels expected

Zack every bit as good as Angels expected

Zack every bit as good as Angels expected
ANAHEIM -- Though they failed to win Sunday's rubber game against the Rays, the Angels got a glimpse of how strong their starting rotation can be for the final 60 games of the season.

In his first start with the Angels after being acquired from the Brewers just two days prior, Zack Greinke was as good as, if not better than, advertised. The right-hander threw seven innings against the Rays, giving up two runs on seven hits and a walk, while striking out eight in the Angels' 2-0 loss.

"I don't know if we had to see him in person to really understand what he could mean to us," manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's no doubt that our rotation's better now with Zack in it than it was before. We're excited to see him pitch well this afternoon and hopefully continue it into his next start on Saturday."

With Greinke's arrival, the entire dynamic of the Angels' rotation is changed. Previously, the only two starters who brought much consistency were Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. Dan Haren is just off the disabled list, and Ervin Santana, Jerome Williams and Garrett Richards were question marks.

A lot has happened for the 2009 Cy Young Award winner in the past 48 hours, and though there were some nerves pregame, he said they all melted away once he stepped on the mound. It became just another start that just so happened to be his first as part of the home team at Angel Stadium.

"Once you're on the mound, it's the same thing, no matter where you're pitching, who it's against," Greinke said. "Just do what you do, and when you get in a jam, go to your go-to pitches, no matter where you're pitching."

From the end of the second inning through the fifth, Greinke retired 10 straight batters, four on strikeouts. He was taken out in the seventh after 111 pitches, his 10th time in 22 starts this season with 100-plus pitches. It was also the ninth time in 2012 in which he has gone at least seven innings while giving up two earned runs of fewer.

With the short amount of time Grienke had to go from facing the Nationals with the Brewers to facing the Rays with the Angels, he and catcher Chris Iannetta had to try to cram a season's worth of familiarity and preparation into just one day.

Iannetta, who made his first start after missing 67 games with a fractured right wrist, said it's going to take time for Greinke and him to build their 60-feet, 6-inch relationship.

Assuming he gets the nod every fifth game, Greinke will have around 12 more starts with the Angels before postseason time rolls around. And though the pair began to get more acquainted with each other after the first few innings, it's going to be games, not innings, before they are truly on the same page.

"It's just a matter of, I had my style of what I like to do, and he's been pitching his whole life, he knows what he likes to do," Iannetta said. "So it's a matter of kind of blending that together in what I see in my reads of the hitter and his reads."

Joe McIntyre is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.