After a rough start to the season, the Los Angeles Angels have rebounded nicely heading into the All-Star break.
The Baltimore Orioles should be thrilled with where they stand at this point.
Looking to win a fourth consecutive home series, the Angels try to take three of four from the Orioles on Sunday.
Even with high-profile acquisitions Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles (47-38) opened the season 18-25. The Angels have since managed to turn things around by winning 29 of 42, and currently occupy one of the AL's wild card spots.
Baltimore holds the other. The Orioles (45-39) will enter the All-Star break with a winning record for the first time since they were 47-40 in 2005, as they seek to end their string of 14 consecutive losing seasons.
Baltimore, however, has dropped two of the first three in this set and looks to rebound after Jered Weaver held the club to three hits over eight innings in Saturday's 3-0 loss. Torii Hunter , Kendrys Morales and Howie Kendrick each drove in a run as Los Angeles improved to 6-2 in the season series.
Morales is batting .351 in his last 14 games, while Kendrick is hitting .354 in his last 12.
All-Star outfielder Mike Trout went 0 for 3 with a run scored for Los Angeles on Saturday, but still leads the AL with a .343 batting average.
"He's a catalyst for that team, and we've seen it since he's come up," losing Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel said. "They've been a completely different team."
Trout was still crushing minor league pitching April 22 when scheduled Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen (7-4, 3.64 ERA) allowed one run in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-2, 10-inning win at Los Angeles in his third major league start.
The left-hander was perfect through six innings Tuesday at Seattle before he allowed a home run. Chen wound up allowing two runs and two hits while striking out a season-high nine over 7 1-3 innings, but did not factor in the decision of the Orioles' 5-4 victory.
"He surprised me," Mariners ace Felix Hernandez told the Orioles' official website. "He was sneaky a little bit with his fastball and mixed in his breaking ball. He was unbelievable."
Jim Thome , who had one of Baltimore's three hits Saturday, is batting .368 (7 for 19) in his last five games in Anaheim.
Acquired as part of the offseason trade that sent catcher Jeff Mathis to Toronto, Mills went 2-3 with an 8.57 ERA in 14 games - nine starts - for the Blue Jays over the past three seasons. The left-hander was 3-3 with a 4.47 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Salt Lake City in 2012.
"I think Brad's a guy that has a little bit of experience," manager Mike Scioscia told the Angels' official website. "I think he is, right now, the best candidate we have to start on Sunday."
Both of Mills' career wins have come in his two starts against the Orioles. He allowed three runs and six hits over 12 1-3 innings in those outings
|July 03, 2012||Brian Roberts||15-Day DL||Groin injury|
|June 28, 2012||Nick Johnson||15-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|June 27, 2012||Nick Johnson||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right wrist|
|June 13, 2012||Brian Matusz||Day-to-Day||Bruised nose|
|June 13, 2012||Endy Chavez||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|June 12, 2012||Endy Chavez||Day-to-Day||Left game - Strained right hamstring|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|July 04, 2012||Dan Haren||15-Day DL||Lower back stiffness|
|July 02, 2012||Mike Trout||Day-to-Day||Jammed right pinky finger|
|June 19, 2012||Jerome Williams||15-Day DL||Shortness of breath|
|June 05, 2012||Bobby Wilson||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 05, 2012||Bobby Wilson||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|May 29, 2012||Jered Weaver||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- It may only have been a one-shot deal for Brad Mills , who made the most of his opportunity in his first game with the Los Angeles Angels .
Mills pitched five innings of three-hit ball in a spot start for the injured Dan Haren after getting called up from the minors, and the Angels supported him with home runs from Albert Pujols , Erick Aybar , Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo in a 6-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.
"I found out yesterday that I was coming up here, and that's all you can hope for - give the team a chance to win and help them take a big series going into the break," Mills said. "I was just mixing today. I didn't really throw my cutter much, but the changeup and curve ball were there when I needed it. I was fighting my command a little bit, but I was able to make them put it in play and pop some up."
Mills (1-0) threw 88 pitches on three days rest, striking out six and walking none. The 27-year-old left-hander was obtained from Toronto in December for catcher Jeff Mathis .
"Jerry (general manager Jerry DiPoto) called me and said that they liked me as a starter," Mills said. "That's all I've ever been, coming up through the minors. So when I got traded, I was really really excited to get a fresh start. And I saw this as an opportunity to create depth in the rotation."
Mills is 3-3 with a 7.38 ERA in 10 big league starts over a four-year span, but 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA in three starts against the Orioles.
"We couldn't really get anything going against him," first baseman Mark Reynolds said. "He changed speeds and kept the ball down. And when he came out of the game, they had a lot of guys throwing mid-to-upper 90s, which was tough."
LaTroy Hawkins , Kevin Jepsen and Jordan Walden each pitched an inning of relief and first-time All-Star Ernesto Frieri closed out the combined five-hitter for his 12th save in as many attempts, keeping his ERA unblemished in 26 appearances since the Angels obtained him from the San Diego Padres on May 3 for utilityman Alexi Amarista and minor leaguer Donn Roach.
The Halos' major league-leading 13th shutout win of the season - two more than all of last year - put them a season-best 10 games over .500. They are a major league-best 42-24 since promoting Trout from Triple-A Salt Lake on April 28. The 20-year-old rookie heads to his first All-Star game batting .341 with 12 homers, 40 RBIs and an AL-high 26 stolen bases in 29 attempts.
"I'm just trying to make things happen," Trout said. "I'm trying to do my job, which is to get on base, score runs, steal some bags and put our team in situations where they can drive me in. I really feel comfortable out there."
Rookie Wei-Yin Chen (7-5) lost his fourth straight start after winning his previous three outings. The Taiwanese-born left-hander gave up five runs, five hits and three walks over four-plus innings in the shortest of his 17 big league starts.
Chen surrendered three homers in a span of seven batters as the Angels built a 4-0 lead through four. Aybar drove his to left-center field on the first pitch with two out in the second, Trout cleared the double-decker bullpen in left with two out in the third, and Pujols barely cleared the bullpen gate with a two-run shot two batters later - also on the first pitch - after a bloop double to center by Torii Hunter .
"This is pretty indicative of the type of team we have - not necessarily always home runs, but just quality hitters and tough outs one through nine in the lineup," Trumbo said. "Home runs are obviously bonuses, but our job is just to grind out at-bats, and today was a good example."
Maicer Izturis drove in the Angels' fifth run with a fourth-inning single after consecutive one-out walks to Aybar and Peter Bourjos .
Trumbo added his 22nd homer with two out in the fifth, tying Garret Anderson (2003) for the most by an Angels player before the All-Star break since 2000, when Anderson had 26, Troy Glaus 25 and Mo Vaughn 23. Trumbo heads to his first All-Star game batting .306 with a team-high 57 RBIs.
"I'm happy with where things are, but I think there's still a lot of room for improvement," he said. "I try not to pigeonhole myself into a certain area and say this is where I feel comfortable, because I think you can always get better."
The Orioles (45-40) have a winning record at the All-Star break for just the second time since 1998. They were 47-40 in 2005.
"We've definitely exceeded a lot of people's expectations," Reynolds said. "I mean, we're right in the thick of things, and anything can happen in the second half. We're definitely not done. We've got a lot of games left to play, and we've got a stretch right after the break where we're going to have to win some games, but we're looking forward to it."
NOTES: Angels LHP C.J. Wilson has been replaced on the AL All-Star squad by Jake Peavy of the Chicago White Sox because of blister problems on his middle finger, but will travel to Kansas City for the festivities. "You don't want to take any risks and jeopardize the rest of your season," Wilson said. "I threw a bullpen today as kind of a check, and it just doesn't feel a hundred percent, so there's no point. It's something that's kind of been on and off. I've had finger and blister problems all year, and I had to come out of a game in Seattle because of it. So it's not anything new." ... The Orioles have scored in only one of their last 32 innings, getting a three-run homer from Steve Pearce against Wilson in the in the fifth on Friday night in a 3-2 win. ... Trout and Trumbo have homered in the same game six times, and the Angels have won five of them. The only loss was on Friday. ... Trumbo also will participate in Monday's home run derby, an event Anderson won in 2003 the day before earning All-Star MVP honors.