TORONTO — — Before the series opener in Toronto, Mike Scioscia took a seat in the Angels' dugout and revisited one of his favorite themes: the depth of his team's rotation.
"It's not a bad position to be in when you have that kind of starting staff," he said.
Oops. Spoke too soon.
In his team's first two games against the Blue Jays, Scioscia's starters have combined to give up 11 runs and 14 hits in 11 innings, with five of those scores helping Toronto to 7-5 victory Friday.
The loss ended a nice run for the Angels, who had won four straight and 14 of their last 15 games on the road. Of more concern, however, was how they lost it, with right-hander Ervin Santana giving up at least five runs for the fourth time in his last six starts.
Santana wasn't charged with the loss — that went to reliever Jordan Walden. But that's only because catcher John Hester bailed his starter out with a tying two-run home run in the seventh inning. By then Santana was back in the clubhouse, having allowed 10 of the last 15 batters he faced to reach base — with half of those scoring.
A night earlier Dan Haren was pounded for six runs in as many innings, raising his earned-run average over this last four starts to 7.94.
But what would appear to be a trend Scioscia insists is just an anomaly.
"It's easy to sit back and maybe look at guys that aren't throwing as well as they can over a number of games. You can break down a lot of guys' seasons and say that," he said. "We absolutely do not consider them soft spots. We believe they're going to do what we need them to do over the course of the season."
They haven't done it so far — at least not consistently — leaving the depth of the Angels rotation to start and stop with Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. Those two have combined to go 17-5 with a 2.34 ERA in 29 starts while Haren and Santana are 10-15 with a 4.83 ERA in 33 games.
For Santana it has been a roller-coaster ride. Three starts ago he came within a pitch of a no-hitter before settling for a complete-game shutout against Arizona. And in mid-May he blanked Oakland on four hits over 72/3 innings.
The right-hander was up and down again Friday, holding the Blue Jays to one hit in the first three innings before giving up five runs in the fourth.
"When you give up five runs, it's not a good outing," Santana said. "I don't know what happened."
Well, one of the things that happened was a three-run home run by Adam Lind on a 1-0 slider Santana said was a good pitch. Lind would homer again in the eighth off reliever Hisanori Takahashi to account for the final score.
In between those two hits the Angels rallied from a three-run deficit to tie it at 5-5 in the seventh only to see Walden, pitching for only the second time in nine days, give the lead back on Yunel Escobar's two-out ground-rule double. It was the first loss for the Angels bullpen in a month.
"I made a couple of bad pitches. And then you all saw what happened after that," he said.
"I'm back to where I was last year," added Walden, who led the American League in blown saves last season. "I've just got to get back out there."
How soon that happens will depend on Scioscia, of course. But the Angels manager left no doubt how he feels about his troubled starters.
"We need these guys," he said. "They just haven't been throwing the ball with the consistency that is in both of them. We got every confidence when they take the ball they're going to give us a chance to win."