Weaver improves to 18-4 with 100th career win
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com | 9/19/2012 4:00 AM ET
Angels put up an eight-spot in fourth
ANAHEIM -- Between innings, as his team bats and his turn awaits, Angels ace Jered Weaver prefers to sit still on the bench, come down from his competitive high and calmly prepare himself for the task of attacking hitters once again. He couldn't do that prior to the top of the fifth on Tuesday night, though. Instead, Weaver had to go to the batting cages to activate his arm -- twice.
Forty minutes was simply too long to sit still.
"It felt like a rain delay out there," Weaver said. "But when runs are coming across the board like that, you can't complain too much."
There were no complaints from Weaver, only the occasional smile. Because as he waited patiently that half-inning, the Angels hit ferociously, battering Rangers pitching to the tune of eight runs in a 39-minute slugfest that led to an 11-3 rout and allowed them to move up on each of the teams that sit above them in the American League West.
Weaver, 29 and winding down his seventh season, now has an even 100 victories in his career.
"It's been an honor to do it all in an Angels uniform," said Weaver, who gave up three runs in seven innings to reach a career-high 18 wins for the second straight season. "I wouldn't have had it any other way, and hopefully these fans see maybe 200 more. It's awesome. It's great from an individual standpoint, but we're trying to win games here."
Oh yeah, that.
The Angels, with 14 games left and none against the two teams ahead of them in the AL Wild Card race, are now 19-7 since Aug. 21. Their latest victory improved them to 3 1/2 games back of the Wild Card-leading A's but kept them three back of the Orioles and Yankees -- both also tied atop the AL East -- for the second AL Wild Card spot. The Angels had a chance to move up a game, but the O's snuck out a 4-2 victory over the Mariners in 18 innings.
The Orioles were playing long after the Angels finished their game, but all the clubhouse TVs were turned off.
"We have to worry about ourselves," catcher Chris Iannetta said.
"We're at the point in the year where we just have to win," he added. "If we play that day, we have to win. We have to find a way. Tomorrow, same situation -- we have to find a way to win. Texas, Oakland, Baltimore, they're all in the driver's seat, they're ahead of us, they're playing great baseball right now."
But the Angels put the pressure on them by notching their second-highest-scoring inning of the season in the fourth.
As you might expect, it was wacky.
It began with Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton exiting with a sinus infection and finished with 12 Angels hitters coming to the plate -- none of whom were Albert Pujols, who was back in Kansas City with his wife and newborn daughter. In between, Iannetta drove in two runs with a single off the right-field wall, Kendrys Morales notched an RBI infield single, three Rangers pitchers were used and two runs scored on an odd wild-pitch sequence.
"I don't think I've ever seen that," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of a play that saw Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers fling the wild pitch and then collapse awkwardly after Iannetta slid into him at home plate, where he laid grasping his leg as Trout gave the Angels a two-run lead by scoring after a Mike Napoli throw ricocheted off home-plate umpire Jim Wolf. "I've seen two runs score off a wild pitch, but not with an umpire getting the assist."
With Scheppers out and Mark Lowe on the mound, the Angels got back-to-back RBI singles by Morales and Howie Kendrick, a sacrifice fly by Vernon Wells and an RBI double by Alberto Callaspo, putting the finishing touches on a frame that saw them notch five hits, total nine baserunners and finish one run shy of the season high nine they scored in the sixth inning at Rangers Ballpark on July 30.
Weaver put the Angels behind in the third, by giving up a solo homer to Napoli and a two-run shot to Ian Kinsler.
In a span of 39 minutes, he gained new life.
"It was nice, after getting deflated a little bit, to kind of get pumped up again after those guys put up that eight-spot," Weaver said after beating Ryan Dempster. "It was awesome."
With a big cushion in hand, Weaver rolled, retiring the final eight batters he faced to move his ERA on the year to 2.79 and improve to 9-0 with a 2.28 ERA in 14 career home starts against the Rangers.
"He's a great pitcher; one of the best in the league," said Michael Young, whose Rangers are three games better than the A's and 6 1/2 better than the Angels in the AL West. "When he gets a lead, he knows what to do with it."
And that's a big reason why Weaver, still in the conversation for the AL Cy Young Award, is only the sixth pitcher to notch triple-digit wins in an Angels uniform. The only others were Chuck Finley (165), Nolan Ryan (138), Mike Witt (109), John Lackey (102) and Frank Tanana (102).
One-hundred down, 200 to go.
"To even fathom 300 wins is awesome," Weaver said. "The guys that have done it are pretty good. It'd be great to match that, but I don't see that happening."