Palmer risks perfect mark in Freeway finale

Palmer risks perfect mark in Freeway finale

LOS ANGELES -- The great thing about Matt Palmer -- apart from his 5-0 record in five starts for the Angels -- is that he acknowledges how fortunate he is and savors every moment of his life in the big time.

"I'm looking forward to every day in this uniform, not just the days I'm pitching," Palmer said on the eve of his start against the Dodgers and their ace, Chad Billingsley, in the Interleague finale. "I'm a guy who goes to his job and loves his job.

"I've loved every minute I've been here, good times and bad times. Talking to guys who have been here 10 years, 12 years, it's amazing what you can learn every single day. I'm picking up everything I can, from [manager Mike Scioscia] to [pitching coach Mike Butcher] to my teammates."

Palmer, who was 0-2 in three starts for the Giants last season, has found a new delivery that clearly is working for him at age 30.

"Butch got my [front] leg up to a nice power point, and it balanced me. Now I'm coming straight up, balanced, rather than leaning back, then turning my body to get in position. You've got to be consistent with your delivery. A pitcher who doesn't have good balance isn't going to be consistent."

In franchise history, only Jered Weaver and Bo Belinsky won their first five decisions before Palmer, the non-roster invitee to Spring Training signed to a Minor League contract.

Weaver, who yielded one earned run across five innings in Friday night's series opener, won his first seven career starts in 2006. Belinsky started 5-0 in 1962.

Palmer's winning magic prevailed in his most recent start in Seattle, even though he wasn't on top of his game against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in a 6-5 victory, yielding five runs in five innings.

"Matt wasn't as crisp as we've seen," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "but when push came to shove, he made good pitches.

"He pitched well enough to stay around long enough to win, and he keeps staying on that roll."

Win, lose or have nothing to do with it, Palmer -- Memphis born but raised in the "Show Me State" of Missouri -- insists on enjoying every minute of the experience.

Pitching matchup
LAA: RHP Matt Palmer (5-0, 4.26 ERA)
Palmer wasn't particularly sharp in his last outing, giving up five runs on seven hits in five innings against the Mariners in Seattle, but he still did enough to get the win as he struck out two and walked three.

LAD: RHP Chad Billingsley (6-1, 2.51 ERA)
Billingsley pitched a pair of games in his last start against the Mets. He came unglued in the early innings, needing 77 pitches to get through three innings with four walks. But he regrouped emotionally, found his mechanics physically and needed only 28 pitches for the next three innings. He was the first National League pitcher with six victories and each of his nine starts have been quality starts.

Tidbits
Vladimir Guerrero was even better in his second game as designated hitter for high Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday night, going 2-for-3 with a double, RBI and run scored at Lake Elsinore. Guerrero, who doubled with an RBI in three at-bats on Friday night, is expected to return to the Angels' lineup on Monday night at Angel Stadium as their DH against the White Sox. Sidelined since April 16 with a tear in his right pectoral muscle, Guerrero is batting .250 with one homer and three RBIs. ... Guerrero is the only Angels hitter with an extra-base hit against Billingsley, having homered in six at-bats against him. Chone Figgins, who carries an 11-game hitting streak into the series finale, is 0-for-4 with a walk against Billingsley.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

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On radio
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Up next
• Monday: Angels (Ervin Santana, 0-1, 3.09) vs. White Sox (John Danks, 3-3, 4.60), 6:05 p.m. PT
• Tuesday: Angels (Joe Saunders, 6-2, 3.17) vs. White Sox (Bartolo Colon, 2-4, 4.23), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Wednesday: Angels (Jered Weaver, 3-2, 2.52) vs. White Sox (Gavin Floyd, 3-4, 6.54), 7:05 p.m. PT

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.