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TEX@TOR: Mills throws seven frames of two-run ball

TORONTO -- Brad Mills did just about everything he could to give the Blue Jays a chance to win on Saturday afternoon, but he was no match for his counterpart in the opposing dugout.

Mills was effective, but Texas left-hander Derek Holland was downright dominant from start to finish.

Toronto was unable to generate any kind of offense and Holland recorded his fifth career shutout -- and fourth of the season -- in a 3-0 Rangers victory over the Blue Jays in front of 22,560 fans at Rogers Centre.

"From the side, you could tell that he was doing really good," said Mills, who was making his sixth career Major League start. "We can swing it, so to keep our guys off that balance and move really quickly through all of those innings, you can tell he was really good.

"When I got in [the dugout], they showed from center field and I could see how well he was locating with that stuff. He just outpitched me today."

Mills was making his 2011 debut after spending the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. He was one of the Pacific Coast League's most reliable pitchers and led Las Vegas in innings (130 2/3), ERA (3.99), wins (nine), strikeouts (114) and WHIP (1.29).

That success translated well into the Majors. Mills' lone blemish occurred during the second inning, when he allowed the first batter he faced to reach base before surrendering a two-run homer to outfielder Mitch Moreland.

The shot to right field came on a 1-0 pitch and was Moreland's 13th home run of the season -- his first against a left-hander during his two years in the big leagues.

"[Mills] was good," Moreland said. "He mixed everything well and used both sides of the plate. He changes speeds well. He was mixing up well and keeping us off balance."

Two runs over seven innings is impressive work, but Mills would like to take back that one pitch.

"We went with a cutter away first, and then we were just trying to go down and away with the heater and it leaked back over," Mills said. "He is one of those guys -- obviously, I haven't faced him before -- but I've been told he likes to hang out over the plate and pull that outside pitch.

"It was up, kind of ran back, and he got it. It was a mistake on my part."

Mills settled in and didn't allow another run through his next five innings. He didn't top 87 mph on the radar gun, but he was able to keep the Rangers' hitters off balance by mixing speeds and remaining consistent in the zone.

The native of Arizona started the game with an 86-mph fastball and finished his outing the exact same way in striking out shortstop Omar Quintanilla.

Despite the below-average velocity, Blue Jays manager John Farrell doesn't think it should come as a surprise that Mills has the ability to be effective.

"Regardless of what the radar gun says, he's got life through the zone," Farrell said. "He's got a quick arm, he's got deception. He's got a well-above-average changeup to create some separation and slow some bats down.

"It's more about the life and the quickness through the zone versus just the raw velocity."

Mills entered the game without any long-term guarantees from the Blue Jays about what his future role with the club will be. The only thing Mills knew for sure is that he would be starting against Texas and likely needed a good performance to get another opportunity.

Following the game, Farrell said that was exactly what Mills now deserves, and it's expected the southpaw will take the mound again on Friday against Baltimore.

"I hope I showed that I can pitch up here and will get another opportunity," said Mills, who is 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA. "It's not my decision, but I just have to try and do my part, work hard, wherever the next start is."

Mills' impressive outing was somewhat spoiled by the overpowering performance of Holland. The Rangers' left-hander was consistently clocked in the mid-90s and had very little difficulty all afternoon.

The Blue Jays recorded four hits and managed to put just two runners in scoring position during his nine innings of work -- both in the second inning.

Jose Bautista's single in the sixth was the only hit to leave the infield all game. The others came on a botched popup, a bunt and an infield hit to Quintanilla.

Holland finished with five strikeouts and just one walk. He has not allowed a run in 16 1/3 career innings at Rogers Centre.

The 24-year-old also hasn't allowed an earned run in his past two starts, and he has delivered shutouts in three of his past five outings.

"The way Holland pitched today, he stayed out of the middle of the plate and we ran into a very good pitching performance on his part," Farrell said.

"We had a couple of opportunities in the first and second innings and couldn't cash in. Any ball that we seemingly hit hard was deflected off his glove. You have to tip your hat to the outing today that he had against us." Comments