Weaver goes after AL rookie record

Weaver goes after AL rookie record

The Red Sox were the first team to really figure out Jered Weaver. Thursday night they'll have another shot at handing the rookie his first loss.

Weaver, who has won his first nine big-league decisions, shares the American League record for consecutive winning decisions to start a career with Hall of Famer Whitey Ford. Ford set the record by winning his first nine decisions in 1950. Weaver will attempt to make the American League record his own against a Red Sox club that was the first team to score more than two earned runs against him.

"I try not to think about it too much," Weaver said of his streak. "It's been a good ride. If it ends, it ends. If not, that's great too."

Back on July 29 at Fenway Park, Weaver lasted 6 2/3 innings and permitted three earned runs on seven hits. Even still, he was in line to win his eighth straight start before the bullpen blew a three-run lead.

The Angels got more of the same from Weaver in his next two starts, both of which ended in no-decisions. He allowed three runs to the Rangers and a season-high four to the Indians as his ERA rose above 2.00 for the first time in his career.

Since that game in Cleveland, Weaver has begun to dominate once again. He surrendered one run in six innings against the Yankees in New York on Aug. 13 and followed that performance with seven scoreless innings last Friday vs. the Mariners.

His start in Boston was the only game in which Weaver and rookie catcher Mike Napoli have not teamed together on the field. Napoli, who didn't start in the Angels' 4-3 loss on Wednesday, will almost assuredly get the call on Thursday.

"It's easy to work with him; our heads kind of work in the same direction," Weaver said. "I already have the pitch ready in my hand before he throws [a sign] down."

Weaver's deceptive delivery and mastery of the strike zone allowed him to win the first seven starts of his Major League career. His early run of success only came into question when pundits noted he had yet to face a team for the second time.

Well, the rookie has now faced a trio of teams more than once and, with a 2.33 ERA in those outings, has put to rest such cynical opinions.

"Every time a team is going to see you, they're going to have a better read on you," Weaver said. "But I've faced a couple teams twice before and have been able to do well."

The Red Sox possess an MVP candidate the likes of which the Royals, Indians and Mariners do not. And that clutch performer happens to be the best hitter Weaver has faced all year.

"[David] Ortiz was definitely my toughest," he said. "That guy can hit anything you throw up there."

Ortiz nicked Weaver for two RBI singles last month, but the rest of the Red Sox could only combine for a sacrifice fly against the rookie.

"He's not afraid to challenge anybody, that's why he's going to be real good in this game," Ortiz said. "He's not afraid, that's what I like about him."

The Angels will face Josh Beckett, who hasn't won in his past five starts. Beckett was Weaver's opposition in Boston and delivered a quality start -- three earned runs in six innings -- in his team's extra-inning victory.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (13-8, 5.35 ERA)
Beckett has allowed a Major League-high 32 home runs.

LAA: RHP Jered Weaver (9-0, 1.95 ERA)
Weaver hasn't yet pitched more than seven innings in any of his Major League starts, yet he has never thrown less than 5 2/3.

Player to watch
The current Angels staff has held Ortiz to a .197 average over his career, his lowest mark against any current staff in the American League.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN West

On radio
• KSPN 710 AM, KMXE 830 AM (Español)

Up next
• Friday: Yankees (RHP Jaret Wright, 9-7, 4.63) at Angels (RHP John Lackey, 10-9, 3.52), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Saturday: Yankees (RHP Cory Lidle, 10-9, 4.45) at Angels (RHP Ervin Santana, 12-6, 4.28), 1:10 p.m. PT
• Sunday: Yankees (RHP Jeff Karstens, 0-0, 4.76) at Angels (LHP Joe Saunders, 4-1, 3.06), 12:35 p.m. PT

Greg Wagner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.