Rangers center fielder Julio Borbon took away a potential grand slam from Juan Rivera in the third inning Monday night at Angel Stadium, and it was the same old story for Weaver. After the Angels bats had come alive for him, for once, in his previous outing, things looked to have reverted.
It turned out the Angels had more than just one good swing from Rivera in them. It wasn't smooth and it wasn't quick, but the offense again showed up for Weaver, and the Angels downed the first-place Rangers, 7-4, in the opener of a three-game set.
Weaver worked around nine hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings and improved to 13-11. Were the Angels in a pennant race, had Weaver gotten more support this season, he'd be in contention for a particular honor.
"There's no doubt that Jered would be, if we had supported him the way we could have on the offensive side, and the defensive side to some extent," manager Mike Scioscia said, "you're talking about a guy that would be in the race for the Cy Young. Unfortunately, we haven't as a team put him into that position."
Weaver's chances at another honor, leading the Majors in strikeouts, took a hit when he whiffed only two on Monday. Weaver has played cat-and-mouse with Seattle's Felix Hernandez on the leaderboard all season and is two off Hernandez's leading pace of 222. Weaver has said all along he doesn't care for the title, and he said his low strikeout total Monday was because the Rangers have seen him five times.
"They don't call me King Weaver, they call him King Felix," Weaver said. "He's the strikeout king, so what are you going to do?"
The Angels broke the 1-1 tie that Borbon's catch preserved on three doubles in the fourth off Rangers starter Derek Holland. Jeff Mathis had the first with one out, scoring Brandon Wood.
Two batters later, Howard Kendrick doubled off the pitcher. He singed the ball off the feet of Holland into shallow left field, and left fielder David Murphy couldn't get to the ball quick enough. Mathis scored and Kendrick took second, and Bobby Abreu's ground-rule double that followed made it 4-1.
"Any time you get some runs, it's a comfort level for a pitcher," Weaver said.
The back-and-forth started in the middle innings. Torii Hunter's two-out, two-run single to left off Pedro Strop in the sixth made it 6-1. Weaver ran into trouble in the seventh, when he was charged with two runs, one of which came home after Kevin Jepsen relieved him.
A Murphy single, the fourth of his five hits, knocked Weaver out.
"He's a quality pitcher and we picked a tough night to run up against him," Murphy said. "He really bears down with runners in scoring position. When we had runners on, he was really able to squander any chances we have."
"[Weaver] was really one pitch from getting out of that seventh inning, and it would have been a terrific outing," Scioscia said.
The Angels and Rangers exchanged runs in the bottom of the seventh and top of the eighth to make it 7-4. Fernando Rodney, coming off his third blown save of the month in his last appearance, let two on before striking out Mitch Moreland on three pitches and a check swing to end the game.
"Although the bullpen wasn't really shut down tonight, they got the job done and we held on," Scioscia said.
It's disappointing for the Angels to consider what this series could have meant had they stayed closer in the race. Still mathematically alive at 74-76, they're 9 1/2 games behind Texas in the American League West. The Rangers have lost three of their last four.
In Weaver's eyes, Borbon wasn't the first to make this season difficult.
"This is the season that a lot of hard-hit balls haven't gone our way," Weaver said. "That's not an excuse, that's just the way things have been going."
Third baseman Alberto Callaspo was sore after the game and will be out of the lineup on Tuesday after he was hit by a pitch in the left foot in the seventh. X-rays came back negative, Scioscia said.
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less