Jered Weaver wins 17th game as Angels top Astros, 5-2

Written By kolimtiga on Minggu, 14 September 2014 | 12.56

The Angels' lineup has been the story of their winning streak, which has now reached double digits.

But with each pitch that ducked out of the zone at just the right moment Saturday night, with each strike that darted suddenly to catch a corner, Jered Weaver issued notice: Don't forget about the resilient rotation.

The team's recent offensive tear has made life pretty easy on the pitchers. Average more than six runs per game, as the Angels have since they lost Garrett Richards to a left knee injury on Aug. 20, and it matters a lot less what your starter does. But the pitching has been quietly dominant.

With a 5-2 win over the Astros on Saturday — their 10th straight victory — the Angels are now just four wins away from wrapping up the American League West title. Barring a catastrophic collapse, they will reach the playoffs for the first time in five years.

The Angels have surged since mid-August even without their best pitcher, Richards, and promising young starter Tyler Skaggs, who underwent Tommy John surgery in August. The team has a 2.91 earned-run average since Aug. 10, when they trailed the Oakland Athletics by four games. The Angels now lead the A's by 11 games.

The bullpen has been among the league's best. Matt Shoemaker has been the pleasant surprise of the season. Hector Santiago has been flexible and relatively dependable.

Weaver, though, is the most important. He is now the Angels' imperfect ace.

Statistically, he is having a down year. He hasn't dominated as in years past, and his earned-run average is 3.50, his highest for a full season since 2009.

When Weaver pitches, though, the Angels win. He is now 17-8, the first AL pitcher to reach 17 wins. The Angels have won 14 of his last 17 starts.

And he is always still capable of a performance like Saturday, a masterful, efficient dissection of the Astros' lineup. He struck out 12, a season high, and allowed just one run and four hits in seven innings.

Weaver controlled at-bats and painted corners. He was economical (101 pitches, 76 strikes), he was overpowering and he was precise. Five Astros struck out looking.

He had at least one strikeout in each inning he pitched. The Astros had no answers.

"I don't know if I've seen Weaver throw like this for — I'm going back five years," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said.

Weaver received some help from Mike Trout, who hit solo home runs in his first two at-bats and doubled in his third. During his last at-bat in the seventh inning, the Astros intentionally walked Trout to load the bases for Albert Pujols, who walked on a 3-2 pitch to force in a run. The Angels would score three runs in the inning to take a 5-1 lead and effectively seal the game.

It was Trout's third multi-home-run game in his career.

This actually counted as a down game for the Angels' offense, which had averaged nine runs per game during the winning streak. They snapped a streak of eight games with at least seven runs. One more would've been a franchise record.

"We're extremely confident right now," right fielder Kole Calhoun said. "It's been fun coming to the yard lately."

During the winning streak, the seven regulars atop the lineup have all batted above .300. Howie Kendrick has batted .500. And David Freese has hit in eight of nine games, breaking out of an 0-for-21 slump.

"He's made some adjustments," Scioscia said. "You see the way he drives the ball the other way. That's really when he's at his best. And we're seeing that, and that's coming at a good time. And we're going to need it."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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