ANAHEIM -- The performance Joel Pineiro turned in Sunday afternoon might have been exactly what Angels manager Mike Scioscia envisioned when he demoted the veteran right-hander to the bullpen a month ago. Pineiro, obviously motivated to keep his spot in the rotation, looked like his old self, like the pitcher the Angels thought they'd get when they signed him to a two-year, $16-million deal before the 2010 season.
Pineiro accomplished two things he hadn't done since before the All-Star break: he won a game and pitched more than six innings. The run Pineiro allowed in Sunday's pivotal 4-1 win against the Minnesota Twins was a personal-best since Independence Day.
"When he pitches the way he can and like he did this afternoon, he'll pile up wins for us," Scioscia said. "That was good to see."
On Aug. 3 Pineiro was sent to the 'pen after allowing seven runs in 4 1/3 innings against these same Twins. Angels fans saw a different pitcher Sunday.
"Obviously we've been counting on the big three all year," Pineiro said, referring to Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. "Hopefully myself and whoever else is in the back-end of the rotation can step up and give the team a chance to win."
He had the sinker working, inducing eight ground-ball outs, including an important double play in the seventh that erased the potential game-tying run. Pineiro mixed in curveballs and sliders and had good command of his fastball. He walked only one batter -- Joe Mauer on four pitches in the sixth. Mauer, hitting .682 (15-for-22) lifetime against Pineiro heading into Sunday, had homered to deep right in his previous at-bat.
Afterward, Pineiro was able to joke about his lone mistake of the afternoon.
"He's got my number, obviously," Pineiro said. "But I was able to keep it to a solo homer."