ANAHEIM -- When the Angels signed right-hander Joel Pineiro as a free agent this offseason, they knew exactly what they were getting -- a sinkerball pitcher coming off a career year with the Cardinals in which he won 15 games and had a 3.49 ERA.But Pineiro has exceeded all expectations so far in the early season, and it was again on full display Monday night against the Tigers. Pineiro continued his impressive season by tossing 7 1/3 innings to help lead the Angels to a 2-0 win at Angel Stadium. The right-hander, who improved to 2-1 with a 1.77 ERA in three starts, used his sinker to induce eight ground-ball outs and struck out four while allowing seven hits and no walks. "It was more than just a solid outing, it was a terrific outing against a deep lineup," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think Joel just did much of what he does. He had a good curveball against lefties but had that sinker and changed speeds well tonight." Pineiro, who hasn't walked a batter since his 2010 debut, had great command and simply let his defense behind him do the work. Only twice did he get to a three-ball count against the 30 batters he faced. "That's the biggest thing for any pitcher is going out there and getting ahead," Pineiro said. "I wanted to make them hit my pitches and keep the ball down with my sinker. [Catcher Jeff] Mathis called good pitches, and I had a good defense behind me, so it was a good win." Pineiro pitched out of several jams, including inducing a line-drive double play to end the second, but in the eighth inning, it was Kevin Jepsen who helped him out of trouble. Jepsen came in for Pineiro with two runners on and Miguel Cabrera at the plate with one out. Jepsen got Cabrera and then Carlos Guillen to ground out to the end the inning and the scoring threat. "When you hold them down like that, 2-0, it's a little frustrating," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "You feel like you should be able to muster a few runs somehow. We just didn't do it." That wasn't the only scare for the Angels that inning, as Mathis was hit in his right hand on foul tip with Cabrera at the plate. He finished the game after thorough examination by the training staff, but is considered day-to-day with a contusion. "There is no way of telling right now where it is," Scioscia said. "I'm sure he'll be examined and put a lot of ice on it tonight, and hopefully it's just a bruise. But he's going to be examined, and anything else I'd just be guessing. He was sore, for sure." Mathis was the key for the Angels offensively, doubling in the third inning off left-hander Dontrelle Willis to score Howard Kendrick when the throw in by right fielder Magglio Ordonez hit him at second base. Mathis, who has a hit in all 10 games he's started this season, later came around to score on a groundout by Bobby Abreu. That's all the Angels could muster against Willis, who allowed two runs on four hits over six innings while walking two. "We were lucky we were able to score a couple runs early," Scioscia said. "But outside of that, we didn't do much." The two runs were all the Angels needed, as former Tigers closer Fernando Rodney closed it down with a perfect ninth inning to record his first save against his old team and his fourth in as many chances this season. "I'm the same guy no matter who I have to face," Rodney said. "That's what I did tonight -- pitch. It was special because I got the outs quickly, but that's about it." With the win, the Angels have now won four in a row and five of their last six after starting out the season with a 2-6 record. But Scioscia isn't one to talk about his team's 7-7 record. "We don't even look at the standings," Scioscia said. "I couldn't even tell you our record. The standings are irrelevant. All I know is we've played 14 games and we have a long way to go. There's no sense to look at standings because it has no bearing day to day."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.