Brad Mills picked up his first victory with the Angels on Sunday by going… (Harry How / Getty Images )
It was a balmy 79 degrees in Angel Stadium on Sunday, with no marine layer in sight, and the ball was carrying well, as evidenced by the four home runs the Angels hit in a 6-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
The conditions didn't seem to favor Brad Mills, a soft-tossing left-hander who often throws his 86-mph fastball up in the zone and who was making his Angels debut against a club that ranks fourth in the American League with 106 homers.
Mills didn't even flinch. Called up from triple A to replace the injured Dan Haren, Mills gave up three hits in five innings, striking out six and walking none, to earn the victory and give a sagging rotation a much-needed shot in the arm.
Ace Jered Weaver and left-hander C.J. Wilson are All-Stars, though Wilson backed out of Tuesday's game because of a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand, but the rest of the starting pitching staff has been in tatters.
In six starts since June 28, Haren, Ervin Santana and Garrett Richards combined to give up 37 runs in 25 1/3 innings, an ERA of 13.14. Haren (lower-back stiffness) went on the DL on Thursday, and Richards was sent back to Salt Lake the same day.
With Jerome Williams expected to be activated after the All-Star break and Haren due back on July 19, Mills, acquired from Toronto for catcher Jeff Mathis last winter, probably won't be here long. But his performance Sunday should at least earn him another start after the break.
"The last two weeks have been rough on our rotation, but Brad giving us a chance to win was big," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Baltimore has some guys who can hit the ball out of the park, so for a guy who pitches up with his fastball like Brad, he had to really change speeds well to keep them off balance, and he did."
Mills gave up a leadoff double to Robert Andino in the first but struck out J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters and got Adam Jones to fly to center on a 69-mph curve. The Orioles managed two more singles against Mills.
Mills might have stayed in the game longer, but he was pitching on three days' rest, having thrown three innings for Salt Lake on Wednesday, and he needed 88 pitches to get through five innings.
Relievers LaTroy Hawkins, Kevin Jepsen, Jordan Walden and Ernesto Frieri each threw scoreless innings to complete the team's major league-leading 13th shutout and second in a row against the Orioles. The Angels closed the first half with a 48-38 record.
"Brad didn't try to do too much," Scioscia said. "He understands his game, what he needs to do. He pitched well with his fastball, brought his changeup, curve and cutter into the game, pitched to the corners and missed bats."
The same cannot be said of Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen, who found the sweet spot of too many Angels bats.
Erick Aybar hit a solo homer in the second, Mike Trout crushed a solo shot over both bullpens in left field, his 12th of the season, in the third, and Albert Pujols hit a two-run shot to left, his 14th, in the third. Mark Trumbo hit his team-leading 22nd homer to left-center against Luis Ayala in the fifth.
"This was the type of day where you can relax a little, breathe easier, because you know if you get one good, you don't need to worry that it might hang up," Trumbo said. "But those balls were stung pretty good. Every one that should have gone out went out."