Angels Show Familiar Blend
The Halos are back, all right.
One night after Kevin Appier made a successful return from the disabled list, Aaron Sele thwarted the Toronto Blue Jays over 5 2/3 innings Friday in his season debut as four Angel pitchers combined on a three-hitter during a surprisingly comfortable 6-1 victory at Edison Field.
Sele, making his first start for the Angels since Sept. 29 because of shoulder problems that required off-season surgery, limited the Blue Jays to two hits and one run -- on Jayson Werth’s fifth-inning solo homer.
Anaheim Manager Mike Scioscia said Sele exhibited better stuff than he had all of last season, when injuries and ineffectiveness combined to keep him from reaching double-digit wins for the first time since 1996.
“There’s probably a lot of truth in that statement,” said Sele, who threw 52 of his 93 pitches for strikes. “I’m just happy I was able to go out there and keep the team in the ballgame.”
The Angel bats also loomed large as Shawn Wooten, Adam Kennedy and Tim Salmon each registered a two-run hit in front of an appreciative crowd of 42,820.
The Angels (17-17), back at .500 for the first time since April 19, have won four consecutive games since Scioscia called a closed-door meeting last Sunday after the team had played listlessly during a three-game sweep by Toronto.
Appier and Sele have done their parts over the last two nights, though neither pitched spectacularly. Sele struck out four and issued four walks, the latter statistic contributing to the jams he faced in the first and third innings.
Shannon Stewart hit Sele’s second pitch of the season for a bloop single, then moved to second when Sele walked Frank Catalonotto. But Sele retired the next three batters to escape the inning.
In the third, Sele issued consecutive walks with one out but got Vernon Wells to hit into an inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play.
“These are two guys who maybe you don’t realize you miss or need until [they’re] gone,” Scioscia said of Appier and Sele. “They are not real flashy, but they execute pitches. Getting them back is very important for us.
“Ape, though he was rough around the edges [during a five-walk performance], got it done, and Aaron had terrific stuff.”
The Angels broke a scoreless tie in the fourth when Wooten drilled a cut fastball from Toronto starter Doug Davis for a two-run homer just over the reach of Stewart, the left fielder.
After Werth homered on a 3-and-1 Sele fastball in the fifth to cut the Blue Jays’ deficit in half, the Angels responded with four runs in the seventh to put the game out of reach. Kennedy hit a two-run bloop single and Salmon followed with a solid two-run double.
The Angel bullpen contributed another strong performance, with Scott Schoeneweis, Brendan Donnelly and Ben Weber giving up only one hit and striking out six in a combined 3 1/3 innings. Wells singled off Weber with one out in the ninth but was erased after being doubled off first on Carlos Delgado’s fly ball to end the game.
Sele had been shaky in six rehabilitation starts with triple-A Salt Lake and Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, going 1-2 with a 5.73 earned-run average. But he had little trouble Friday.
“I really thought that Aaron, once he got settled, made some terrific pitches,” Scioscia said. “You don’t want to set the table with walks, but he got out of it.”
It was a promising sign for an Angel team that might be starting to come around.
“Now that our starting pitching is back and everyone’s clicking,” Wooten said, “it seems like we can have a taste of last year.”