Santiago, Wilson providing Angels with stability

Santiago, Wilson providing Angels with stability

ANAHEIM -- The Angels are still three games below .500, their offense is having a hard time scoring runs and their longtime ace, Jered Weaver, is off to the worst start in his distinguished career.

But here's a positive: C.J. Wilson and Hector Santiago, two historically erratic left-handers, are pitching very well.

Wilson pitched seven innings of two-run ball against the Mariners on Wednesday and Santiago shut the Astros out through 6 1/3 innings on Thursday. After six turns through the rotation, the two have combined for a 2.64 ERA, giving up 22 runs on 59 hits and 25 unintentional walks in 76 innings, a stretch that has seen them strike out 58 batters.

They have seven quality starts in 12 outings.

"I think Hector is pitching with probably more confidence than he's ever pitched with in his career," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after the Angels' 3-2 loss on Thursday night. "C.J. is healthy and feels good and is making pitches."

Coming off his worst year as a Major League starting pitcher -- with a 4.51 ERA and 85 walks in 175 2/3 innings -- Wilson has a 2.70 ERA and has walked 2.3 batters per nine innings, on pace for easily the lowest rate of his career. He had fluid drained from his elbow after an April 25 outing against the Rangers, then gave up four runs (three earned) on 11 hits in 14 innings over his next two starts, walking one and striking out nine.

Wilson goes seven frames

"I started off pretty well last year, too," Wilson said. "It's just a matter of not taking any line drives to the head [like he did in Spring Training last year] and not breaking my ankle on any comebackers [he sprained his right ankle on July 10] and I should be OK. It's a long season, so you can't ever really put yourself in cruise control mode."

Santiago cruised against the Astros in the opener of a four-game series, somehow committing more balks (two) than he gave up hits (one). He issued three unintentional walks and needed 101 pitches to get through six innings, but struck out the only batter he faced in the seventh and now has a 2.57 ERA.

With Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano a phone call away in Triple-A Salt Lake, Santiago -- a potential asset out of the bullpen -- seemingly needed to pitch well to keep his rotation spot.

So far, he's responded.

"The last two or three times out have been very good for me," Santiago said. "I think the soft contact is something that has given me more confidence. Even when they hit the ball, it's not getting laced somewhere in the gap, it's not getting drilled over the wall. It means I've got good stuff and it's working in the zone."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.