Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. — There is no secret to Joel Pineiro's success. The Angels right-hander goes right after hitters with his sinking fastball and looks for ground-ball outs, the earlier in the count, the better.
"The hitters know what my plan is, what we're trying to do," Pineiro said. "It's just a matter of executing."
Pineiro's execution was almost flawless Monday. He threw no-hit ball through five innings to lead the Angels to a 10-2 exhibition victory over the Kansas City Royals in Tempe Diablo Stadium.
Sixth-inning doubles by Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel broke up the no-hitter and shutout, but Pineiro went 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run and two hits, striking out two and walking two. He threw 94 pitches, and 13 of his 20 outs came on ground balls.
"That was impressive," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He accomplished everything he wanted to accomplish. He went deep into the game, got up seven times and had a good sinker going. He got ground ball after ground ball, and we played good defense behind him. That's the way J.P. can pitch."
An infield led by Erick Aybar, the team's defensive whiz of a shortstop, is one of the reasons Pineiro, who went 15-12 with a 3.49 earned-run average for St. Louis last season, signed a two-year, $16-million deal with the Angels.
"One of the things that got me here was I know how hard Scioscia and the guys work on defense — it's going to be there all year," Pineiro said. "As long as I see the ball on the ground, I'm OK."
Aybar, who is replacing Chone Figgins in the leadoff spot, had a spring average of .083 last week, with two hits in 24 at-bats, but he has gone on a tear since returning from a forearm injury that sidelined him for a week in mid-March.
Aybar had four singles in four at-bats, with two runs batted in, on Monday, and he has 11 hits in his last 16 at-bats since Thursday, a .688 streak that has raised his spring average to .325. The Angels had 15 hits in Monday's game.
"When he first came back he had some timing issues," Scioscia said. "He was a little off his stride, but he's found his rhythm at the plate. We're seeing some offensive continuity. It takes time. Some positive things are happening, and Erick is right in the middle of it."
Scott Kazmir, who was scratched from his last start because of shoulder tightness, is scheduled to throw five innings and about 75 pitches against Milwaukee on Tuesday.
Barring a setback, Kazmir will look to extend to six innings and about 90 pitches in a camp game in Arizona on Sunday. That would put the left-hander in line to start the fifth game of the regular season against Oakland on April 9.
The Angels have received 106 credential requests from Japanese media members to cover the April 5 season opener against the Minnesota Twins, Hideki Matsui's first regular-season game as an Angel.