OAKLAND — Ervin Santana, whose place in the Angels' starting rotation was thought to be tentative, can double the number of victories by Zack Greinke or C.J. Wilson since late June.
He will start Friday at home against the Seattle Mariners, seeking his second win in that span. Greinke and Wilson each have one.
Santana's numbers still aren't pretty — a 5-10 record and 5.83 earned-run average — but the Angels have won both of his starts since the right-hander was skipped in the pitching order because he had been ineffective.
FOR THE RECORD:
Angels notes: In the Aug. 9 Angels notes, Angels starter Jered Weaver is incorrectly identified as Jeff Weaver.
The Angels' bullpen has struggled mightily on the team's 4-6 trip, blowing another lead in a 9-8 loss on Wednesday, and compiling a 10.54 ERA.
But the starters — Jeff Weaver is the exception — have been torched, too, for 34 earned runs in 601/3 innings for a 5.07 ERA. Remove Weaver's two starts — he's 2-0 and given up only two runs in 151/3 innings — and the others have combined for a 6.40 ERA, 32 earned runs in 45 innings.
"When the rotation isn't passing the baton in a regular fashion, that's going to stretch a 'pen," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "The whole continuity is not where we want it."
With relievers Scott Downs and Jordan Walden on the disabled list, Scioscia spoke of relievers whose "mileage" has "diluted" their sharpness. Jason Isringhausen, who has two losses in his last three appearances; LaTroy Hawkins, who has two blown saves in his last five games, and Hisanori Takahashi.
"Getting the game to a certain point and getting the guys you want to hold a lead to pitch," Scioscia said, references to setup man Kevin Jepsen and closer Ernesto Frieri.
"Our team is playing well … our offense is clicking," Greinke said, "but the guys, including myself, haven't pitched up to our standards."
Back in the swing
Erick Aybar has been on a hitting tear since his return from a broken big toe.
The Angels shortstop returned from the disabled list Monday with a three-hit night, hit a home run in the ninth inning Tuesday and had two hits Wednesday.
"See it and hit it," Aybar said of his seven-for-13 streak. "It's good to be back."
Scioscia is keeping Aybar in the No. 8 spot in the batting order even as No. 2 batter Torii Hunter is hitting .394 with 16 runs batted in in the last 17 games, middle-of-the-lineup-type production.
"From the top to the middle of the lineup, those guys are steady. … If we need to spot a guy up top, we know Erick's potential," Scioscia said. "If it emerges, it emerges. If it doesn't, you have a deeper lineup. …. This is a pretty deep look we have now."
Garrett Richards will keep his spot in the rotation of triple-A Salt Lake after tweaking a knee covering first base and leaving Monday's start early, the Angels announced. … Walden threw a bullpen session Wednesday, and Scioscia said it was "a final step" before the reliever — out because of strained right biceps and nerve problems in his neck — makes rehabilitation appearances for Salt Lake.