ARLINGTON -- When he caught the Rangers' Michael Young looking at a third strike leading off the fourth inning on Friday night, Jered Weaver in all likelihood wrapped up the 2010 Major League strikeout title.
This was strikeout No. 233 for Weaver, lifting him over Seattle's Felix Hernandez, at 232, and the Giants' Tim Lincecum, at 231. Both King Felix and The Freak are believed to have thrown their final pitches of the regular season.
Weaver finished with four strikeouts in seven innings in the Angels' 5-4 win in 11 innings.
Weaver, if it becomes official after Sunday's games, will be the first Angels pitcher to lead the Majors in strikeouts since the master himself, Nolan Ryan. The Express, the all-time K king, put away 341 hitters in 1977. Ryan now runs the Rangers, who displaced the Angels as American League West champions this season after a three-year run.
Weaver has maintained all season that he's not a strikeout pitcher per se, that he'd prefer to get outs early in counts to enable him to get deeper in games. But his stuff has been so consistently good, and overpowering at times, that the whiffs piled up. Weaver has reached double figures five times with a high of 12 in seven innings against Tampa Bay on May 12. He has produced 11 punchouts four times.
"I feel good about the innings I've pitched , keeping the team in games," Weaver said. "That's what I set out to do this season. The strikeouts have come, but it's not like I've been going for them. They've just happened."