ANAHEIM -- Before Sunday, Mark Trumbo had been trying not to think too much about Monday night's State Farm Home Run Derby. He didn't want the distraction.But after hitting his 22nd homer of the season in the fifth inning of the Angels' 6-0 win against the Orioles at Angel Stadium, the slugger put the word out that he isn't taking the competition lightly. "I've been starting to think about it now," Trumbo said. "I'm competitive at everything, so if I enter something and participate, I'm going to try to win it." Trumbo's blast was one of four Angels home runs on Sunday, as they finished the first half of the season on a high note, taking three of four from the Orioles (45-40).
The Angels (48-38) are 7-1-1 in their past nine series and haven't dropped a set at home since losing two of three to the Mariners May 4-6. They finished the first half at a season-best 10 games over .500 at 48-38 (.558), two games better than they were at the break last season (50-42, .543). The team's 13th shutout leads the league and is the most before the All-Star break in franchise history.Though they had the worst 20-game start in franchise history at 6-14, the Angels are a Major League-best 42-24 since April 28. "We've been the first half like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We know the really poor start that we got off to. We also know the untapped potential that was in this team early, we're seeing it come to the surface. We're playing well right now and need to carry it through the break." The Angels got their first run of the game on a home run from Erick Aybar, his second of the season, in the second inning. Since June 10, Aybar is batting .374 (34-for-91), which is second in the American League during that span. He has driven in as many runs in his last 16 games (eight) as he had through the previous 31. They added insurance the next inning on Mike Trout's 12th homer of the season, a solo shot to left field, and Albert Pujols' 14th home run of the year, a two-run blast that scored Torii Hunter. The first four Angels runs all came after there were two outs with the bases empty. "It was one of those days where if you get the ball up, it's going to carry," Scioscia said. "Erick and Mike and Trumbo and Albert all got a hold of some. And we needed it. To get those early runs I think they helped [starter Brad Mills] to settle in and just get creative out there." In his debut with the Angels, Mills went five innings, allowing just three hits while striking out six. Pitching on three days' rest, Mills (1-0) was lifted after throwing 88 pitches. It was his first start in the Majors since Aug. 16, when he was with the Blue Jays. How the Angels' rotation shakes out once the All-Star break ends remains to be seen, considering there are only four bona fide starters -- C.J. Wilson, Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and Jerome Williams -- at the Major League level with Dan Haren on the disabled list until at least July 17. But with his performance on Sunday, Scioscia said Mills is certainly in the running to be the fifth guy. "I was just mixing. All three or four pitches, I didn't really throw my cutter much, had the changeup and curveball today when I needed it," Mills said. "I was fighting my command a little bit, but I was able to make them put it in play." After Mills departed, relievers LaTroy Hawkins, Kevin Jepsen, Jordan Walden and Ernesto Frieri extended the Angels' scoreless streak to 22 straight innings. Angels pitchers haven't given up a run since the fifth inning on Friday night and relievers haven't surrendered a run since the fifth inning on Wednesday (14 2/3 innings). "These last two weeks have been rough on our rotation," Scioscia said. "I think Brad coming in and giving us a chance to win, even though it was just five innings, it was important."
Joe McIntyre is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.