Santana looking to find groove in finale

Santana looking to find groove in finale

ANAHEIM -- It may be early July, but Ervin Santana is still looking for his first win at Angel Stadium this season.

The righty, who has been plagued by injuries the entire season, has made two appearances on the disabled list, missing a total of 52 games.

Santana was first put on the DL on April 5 with an elbow ligament sprain, and then again on June 23 with right forearm stiffness.

In his last start, his first since coming off of the DL, Santana went five innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits in the loss, yet he came away free from pain. It moved his record to 1-4 with a 7.43 ERA.

Even after the loss, both Santana and Angels manager Mike Scioscia were satisfied with the progress made.

"Before, with my injuries, I was thinking about the pitches I was throwing, but now I am not scared to throw," Santana said. "Before this, the injuries were a factor in my velocity."

Santana's velocity in his last start had remnants of what his stuff looked like during the 2008 season, in which he became a first time All-Star. Throughout the game, his fastball reached 93 to 94 mph.

Before going on the DL for the second time this season, Santana in six games was 1-3 with a 7.47 ERA.

His best game during that stretch came against the Detroit Tigers on June 5, when in 8 2/3 innings, Santana gave up one run on six hits. The Santana in Detroit is the Santana Scioscia is hoping to see in Wednesday's finale with the Rangers and for the rest of the season.

"His stuff is looking crisp, and his arm is feeling fine," Scioscia said. "It can only be a step forward coming into this next start."

While this will be Santana's first start against the Rangers this season, lifetime against Texas he is 7-5 with a 6.46 ERA.

"He is physically where he needs to be," Scioscia said. "He came out well and put pitches together well. If he can match that with command, he will get results."

Pitching matchup
LAA: RHP Ervin Santana (1-4, 7.43 ERA)
The numbers weren't impressive, but Santana made strides in his return to the mound on Friday at home against the Orioles. He yielded six runs (four earned) in five innings, but there was more life on his fastball than in previous returns from issues involving his right elbow, forearm and triceps. He was in the 93-94-mph range, closer to the 94-96 range he held during his 2008 All-Star season. Now it's a matter of finding his rhythm and command and sustaining his stamina deeper in games. Facing the Rangers for the first time this season, he's 7-5 with a 6.46 ERA in 14 career starts against Texas.

TEX: RHP Vicente Padilla (6-4, 4.75 ERA)
Padilla last pitched on June 30 against the Angels and allowed five runs in five-plus innings in a 5-2 loss. He gave up 10 hits. Prior to that, he was 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA in four starts. He was pushed back four days in the rotation because of some inflammation in his right shoulder but threw in the bullpen on Monday without any problems. He is 6-4 with a 4.98 ERA in 14 games, including 13 starts, in his career against the Angels. That's his most victories against any American League team. He is 3-1 with a 3.43 ERA in six starts this season on the road.

Tidbits
John Lackey's strikeout of Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the bottom of the second inning on Tuesday moved him past Mark Langston for fifth all-time on the Angels' strikeout list. ... First baseman Kendry Morales matched his career-long hitting streak of 12 games on Tuesday. His last such stretch came in 2007 from Aug. 24-Sept. 6. ... Tuesday's game against the Texas Rangers marked the 10th time this season Bobby Abreu started a game in left field. ... Righty Rafael Rodriguez was one of five Triple-A Salt Lake relief pitchers on Monday to throw a combined 5 1/3 scoreless innings to secure a 5-4 victory over the Tacoma Rangers.

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Up next
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Angels (Joe Saunders, 8-5, 4.44) vs. Yankees (TBD), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Saturday: Angels (Jered Weaver, 9-3, 3.15) vs. Yankees (TBD), 1:10 p.m. PT

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