Ace Jered Weaver further bolstered his Cy Young resume while Albert Pujols and Mike Trout provided the offense to give the Angels a 6-2 win, improving their 2012 record against Texas to 7-4 and slashing their AL West deficit to 3 games. At the time of writing this, the Angels were tied with the A’s for the wild card lead and 2 games ahead of the next wild card contender, the Baltimore Orioles (The Orioles can’t be for real, can they? Their -51 run differential says they’re pretenders).
Holland cruised through the first innings 3 innings, but Albert Pujols got to him in the 4th inning, hitting a high 0-2 fastball for a home run that just cleared the left field wall. In the 6th, Trout connected for a 2-run homer, his 18th of the year and 10th in July, and Pujols hit a solo shot to extend the score to 4-0.
Maicer Izturis began an Angels rally in the 7th inning with a 1-out single up the middle. Two batters later, Holland walked Trout and prompted Ron Washington to yank him from what began as a promising start. Tanner Scheppers* relieved Holland and allowed a 2-out, 2-run double to deep center field to Torii Hunter, bumping the score to 6-0 Angels and giving Jered Weaver an important cushion.
* I’m probably way off base, but Tanner seems like a very Texas name.
Weaver looked in top form for most of the game, a start made doubly important by Dan Haren’s back stiffness flaring up again and being scratched from his Wednesday start — Garrett Richards will start/be fed to the wolves in Haren’s place. Weaver retired the first 14 Rangers he faced, mixing great stuff with his consistently impeccable command.
The Rangers offense is too good to shut down forever, though, and Weaver ran into some trouble in the 7th inning. Josh Hamilton whacked a 1-out single to right field and Michael Young followed with a sharp single past Izturis. David Murphy then drove both runners in with a double to deep center field. Mike Scioscia then took Weaver out after only throwing 97 pitches, probably due to the intense Texas heat that hovered around 100 degrees the entire game. Kevin Jepsen entered the game and continued his return from the dead to throw water on a possible Texas rally.
Jason Isringhausen and Ernesto Frieri combined to retire the next 6 Rangers in order to preserve the 6-2 victory and push Weaver’s record to 14-1.** All told, Weaver’s final line was terrific considering the opponent: 6 1/3 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. The Angels will need more performances like that if they want to catch the Rangers.
** I care not at all about pitcher wins, but 14-1 is nice to look at at.
Richards faces Yu Darvish tomorrow night to try to clinch a series victory for the Angels. Darvish has pitched very well against the Angels and throwing a rookie in the Texas fire (almost literally) could turn ugly. But hey, Ervin Santana survived Monday, so stranger things have happened.
Not related to the game but also of note, the Angels placed Scott Downs on the 15-day DL today because of a shoulder strain. I won’t pretend to know anything about kinesiology, but that sounds like a rough injury for a pitcher. Downs is maybe the Angels most valuable relief pitcher, so Jepsen will have to continue to pitch well and hopefully Jordan Walden will come off the DL soon and pitch effectively.
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