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Angels rotation suffers another setback in 5-0 loss to Yankees

Ervin Santana gives up a single, two walks and a three-run double in the first inning. A starting crew that was expected to be strong this season is a combined 2-3 with a 5.02 earned-run average.

April 13, 2012|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels starter Ervin Santana, left, talks with catcher Chris Iannetta and pitching coach Mike Butcher during the Angels' 5-0 loss to the New York Yankees on Friday.
Angels starter Ervin Santana, left, talks with catcher Chris Iannetta… (Nick Laham / Getty Images )

NEW YORK — When all else fails — and one week into the season, it's apparent much can go wrong — the Angels' superb starting pitching was supposed to keep the club in games, ease the burden on the bullpen and prevent losing streaks.

But like the offense, relief corps and defense at times, the Angels rotation has been surprisingly spotty, suffering another setback in a 5-0 loss to the New York Yankees in New York's home opener Friday.

Ervin Santana struck out the first two batters of the first inning before giving up a single, two walks and Nick Swisher's three-run double, as the Angels lost their third straight game and fell to 2-5 for the season.

Alex Rodriguez, who sparked the first-inning rally with a two-out single and stolen base, added a solo home run in the third. It was the 630th of his career, which tied Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth on baseball's all-time list. And Curtis Granderson lined a solo homer to right in the fifth.

Many tabbed the Angels as favorites to reach the World Series because of a rotation led by Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Santana and C.J. Wilson, but they are a combined 2-3 with a 5.02 earned-run average, Weaver and Wilson providing the only two solid starts.

In the team's five losses, the starters have a 7.39 ERA and have given up 40 hits, including eight home runs, in 28 innings.

"Teams have done a good job maximizing any mistakes that have been made," left fielder Vernon Wells said. "I don't think it's going to be a trend that continues all year, that's for sure. We have the kind of rotation that, once they get hot, it could be a lot of trouble for opposing hitters."

Wells thinks some more early runs would allow the starters to relax and pitch more aggressively, but the offense, outside of a pair of five-run innings against Kansas City and Minnesota, hasn't found its stride.

The Angels mustered only five singles in eight innings against Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, advancing only two runners to second base and grounding into three double plays.

They're hitting .260 as a team, with three homers and 30 runs in seven games, and middle-of-the-order hitters Albert Pujols and Kendrys Morales have combined for two runs batted in. Among the regulars who have struggled are Pujols (.222), Wells (.192), Howie Kendrick (.208) and Morales (.240).

"We have the potential to be very deep offensively, and we need to get there," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Once we do, I think it will take pressure off a lot of other areas."

Pujols, who signed a 10-year, $240-million deal in December, has not had nearly the impact the Angels expect him to have, but the slugger is not putting the offense's funk on his shoulders.

"We have 25 guys — this is not a one-player crew," Pujols said. "The wrong thing to do is put extra pressure on yourself and think you have to carry the team. That's not going to happen, believe me. I've been in the big leagues for 12 years, and when you try to do it by yourself, it doesn't work.

"Our offense hasn't clicked the way we want it to, but it's a long season. I'm pretty sure at the end we'll be right where we want to be. When everything clicks the right way, we're gonna be fine."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

twitter.com/MikeDiGiovanna

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