Offense comes to life, and Santana celebrates

Offense comes to life, and Santana celebrates

Offense comes to life, and Santana celebrates
MINNEAPOLIS -- Ervin Santana couldn't believe what he was seeing. In the top of the third at Target Field on Wednesday night, his Angels actually scored some runs -- in a game that he was starting.

So when Erick Aybar came around to score on a Mike Trout double, Santana couldn't help but joyously raise two fists in the air. Then the Angels kept going. Albert Pujols knocked in another run, and Santana pumped two fingers on each hand. Then Joe Mauer's error at first base allowed a third run to come across, and Santana kept the pattern going by putting three in the air.

Forgive him if this seems a little overzealous. See, run support isn't something Santana is exactly used to. He got none of it in his last five starts -- starts that amazingly coincided with Angels shutouts -- and hadn't pitched with a lead all season.

"I was very excited," Santana said after a 6-2 win over the Twins that moved his record to 1-6. "Our teammates do everything to score runs, even in past games, and today we did it."

The Angels' offense gave him more than enough, thank you very much. They got 14 hits, one shy of their season high, and had five starters finish with multihit games en route to taking two of three in the series and seven of their last 10 overall.

Now they head to Texas, where they'll start a three-game weekend set against a lethal Rangers team that's already seven games ahead in the American League West.

Big early test for the 14-18 Angels. Right?

"I know you guys are going to write 100 articles between tomorrow and Friday about the first game, but we can't get caught up in that," said Pujols, who went 2-for-5 with two RBIs. "They have a great ballclub, they're on top of our division. Our main goal is to be ready to play and put ourselves in a situation to win the series."

At last, a Pujols-led offense put Santana in a situation to win a game.

Santana came into this start 0-6 with a 5.59 ERA, but had suffered back-to-back losses despite giving up just five runs in a 15-inning span -- two of which scored on a fly ball Torii Hunter lost in the sun -- and was the first pitcher since 1974 to start five games in which his team had been shut out.

"It was a little bit [frustrating], but I wasn't thinking about it because I was just trying to do my thing," Santana said. "I don't have control over other things. I was just taking it easy and trying to take it one game at a time."

The Angels' three-run third inning marked the first time they had scored for Santana since the third inning on April 8, in his first start of the season, and snapped a 48-inning scoreless streak in games he has started.

"Man," Hunter said, "he deserved it."

Pitching with a lead for the first time since Sept. 22, 2011, Santana gave up two runs on six hits and three walks in 7 1/3 innings to move his ERA to 5.09 and capture his first win since Sept. 1.

"Very nice," Santana said, a big smile showing off his pearly whites. "Great feeling. Long time without a lead, it feels great."

Pujols' showing represented his first multihit game since April 19 and his third multi-RBI game this season (all of which have come in the last four days). Trout and Howie Kendrick each had three hits, and the Angels -- shut out for a Major League-leading seventh time on Tuesday -- went 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

They've now notched four double-digit-hit game in their last five contests and have scored four-plus runs in 15 of their last 16.

"They have speed, they have power," said Carl Pavano, whose Twins (8-22) own baseball's worst record. "I think when all that's clicking they're a tough lineup."

"It was good to swing the bats tonight. Last night, we were obviously disappointed, it was tough," added manager Mike Scioscia, whose club took six of nine in the season series against the Twins. "We came back out tonight and we did a lot of the things on the offensive side that we need to do. We just need to continue it. We're still not where we need to be. We can see some things coming together, and hopefully we're going to get that consistent offense every night that's going to give our pitchers a chance to get a little breathing room."

Santana's just glad he got to experience it once.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his columns and 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.