ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—For the first time in their 41-year history, the Angels will be sending three pitchers to the All-Star game. Jon Garland isn’t one of them, although he gave the AL West leaders an All-Star-caliber performance in his last home start before the break.
Garland pitched a six-hitter for his 100th major league victory, Jeff Mathis tied a career high with three RBIs and Juan Rivera homered to lead Los Angeles to a 7-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
Garland (8-5) went the distance for the ninth time in 241 career starts. The right-hander was obtained in a trade that sent two-time Gold Glove shortstop Orlando Cabrera to the Chicago White Sox in November.
“Watching and pitching against most of these guys, and then to have a chance to come here and be a part of it, it speaks volumes,” said Garland, an 18-game winner in 2005 and 2006. “For me, it’s been a joy to watch some of these guys throw this year. I’m just trying to stay right with them and do my part. You see it day after day with this staff. You’re seeing good pitches, you’re seeing outs and you’re seeing good defense behind you.”
Garland, who pitched in the 2005 All-Star game, struck out three and walked none while lowering his ERA to 3.76.
“I was getting strikes and getting ahead of guys, so that enabled me to throw different pitches in different counts and try and get them to chase,” Garland said.
The three Angels pitchers who did make the All-Star team were starters Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana, and closer Francisco Rodriguez, whose 34 saves are tied with John Smoltz (2003) for the most in major league history before the break. Saunders and Santana are first-timers in the game.
“It’s a feather in their caps, but they don’t have to thank me,” pitching coach Mike Butcher said. “Those are the guys who are throwing the pitches over the plate and doing all the hard work. I’m proud of all those guys, and it’s a tribute to themselves and the way they pushed each other to have that early season success.”
Rivera, starting in right field for the first time this season, homered in the second inning against Jesse Litsch (8-5) and helped throw out a runner at the plate in the fourth.
The AL West leaders committed their ninth error in six games when shortstop Erick Aybar mishandled Vernon Wells’ two-out line drive in the fourth inning. Wells tried to score on a double to right field by Lyle Overbay, but second baseman Howie Kendrick took Rivera’s one-hop relay from the warning track and fired to Mathis for the tag on Wells.
Garret Anderson opened the scoring with a two-run double in the first and Rivera made it 3-0 with his homer to left-center. Rod Barajas homered for Toronto with two out in the fifth to end an 0-for-17 drought, but the Angels increased their margin to 5-1 in the sixth with a two-run single by Mathis that chased Litsch. Mathis scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch by Brandon League.
Litsch was charged with six runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander is 1-4 with a 5.27 ERA in six starts after going 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA in May.
“He didn’t make too many mistakes, but the mistakes that he did make, he didn’t get away with,” Barajas said. “In this league, you’ve got to keep your mistakes to a minimum. And when you don’t throw 96, 97 miles an hour, those mistakes have a tendency to get hit more often than not.”
Mathis, who started the day batting .212 with 20 RBIs, drove in the Angels’ final run with a seventh-inning single. His playing time is going to increase substantially for at least the next two weeks, because Mike Napoli was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game with irritation in his right shoulder.
The Angels recalled C Ryan Budde from Triple-A Salt Lake to take Napoli’s roster spot. … Blue Jays RHP Roy Halladay was Toronto’s only All-Star representative, making the team for the fifth time—two shy of RHP Dave Stieb’s franchise record. … This is the first time no Angels position player was selected since 1999, when their only representative was closer Troy Percival. … Garland won his fifth straight decision against the Blue Jays, improving to 11-2 lifetime against them.