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Weaver must set aside second-half falloff
Weaver must set aside falloff
By T.R. Sullivan
ANAHEIM -- The numbers support manager Mike Scioscia's contention that Jered Weaver was the Angels' best pitcher in the first half of the season. The numbers also support Weaver's confession that he pitched a little worn out in the second half.
Weaver was 10-3 with a 3.22 ERA in the first half and 6-5 with a 4.47 ERA after the All-Star break. He had the 12th best ERA in the American League before the break and the 62nd best after.
He must put that behind him when he pitches for the Angels in Game 2 of the American League Division Series at 6:37 p.m. PT on Friday night against the Red Sox at Angel Stadium.
"It felt like midway through the season I hit a little hump, and it took me a little while to get out of it," Weaver said before Game 1 on Thursday. "Toward the end of the season, I felt a lot stronger. So, hopefully, I can take that good feeling into the postseason start tomorrow."
Weaver pitches with a cushion. He follows John Lackey, who gave the Angels a one-game lead in the best-of-five playoff by pitching his team to a 5-0 victory on Thursday night.
"That takes a little bit of a load off everybody's shoulders going into tomorrow night's game," Weaver said. "But at the same time, every game is big, especially against these guys."
The Red Sox, down 1-0 in the series, know Weaver has the potential to be just as tough as Lackey.
"We've got to have better at-bats," Dustin Pedroia said.
"We've got to get men on base and find a way to manufacture runs," Kevin Youkilis said. "We can do that. This team is good at putting games behind us and being ready for the next day."
Weaver comes into the playoffs on a positive note. He won his last start of the season, beating the Athletics, 5-2, on Oct. 2 by pitching five scoreless innings. That outing allowed him to snap a three-game losing streak and Scioscia chose Weaver over Scott Kazmir and Joe Saunders to pitch Game 2 in Anaheim.
A year ago, Weaver, after going 11-10 with a 4.33 ERA in 30 starts, found himself in the bullpen when the Angels went into the playoffs against the Red Sox.
"Jered has been really so consistent from Day 1 of Spring Training," Scioscia said. "He was really our only healthy starter that we've had for probably the first eight weeks of the season, throwing the ball to his capabilities. He was one guy that we knew every time he went out there was going to give us a chance to win in some very unsettling waters that we had earlier in the season."
Scioscia said Weaver has physically been in better shape this season than he has been in his career. His stuff has been sharp. Scioscia said the righty has also matured to the point where he is able to focus pitch to pitch and control his emotions on the mound.
"He's controlling some of the things that maybe became distractions to him when he was younger," Scioscia said. "I'm going back two or three years now, not in the early season. He has been as consistent as any pitcher that's taken the mound this year in the American League. It's been very, very important to us."
Weaver will be pitching at home. A Southern California native who went to Long Beach State, Weaver was 9-3 in 17 starts at Angel Stadium this year and his 2.90 ERA at home was the fifth lowest in the American League. Over the past four years, his 3.27 ERA at Angel Stadium is the 17th lowest among all Major League pitchers in their home park.
The numbers influenced Scioscia's decision to pitch Weaver at home while leaving Kazmir and Saunders to pitch in Fenway.
"I think most pitchers are going to be a little more comfortable at home," Scioscia said. "They get used to the mound. You know, there might be some oddities where a guy's stuff just doesn't match up to his home ballpark. But, yeah, we looked at a lot of those, and I think it did have an influence on what game we wanted Jered to start."
Weaver is 3-3 with a 3.81 ERA in 10 career games, nine starts, against the Red Sox. He pitched two scoreless innings in relief in Game 3 of the ALDS last year and was the winning pitcher when the Angels pulled out a 5-4 victory in 12 innings.
He made his first start against the Red Sox on April 10 at Fenway Park and picked up a 6-3 victory when he held them to one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings. He held them to one run over seven innings on May 12 in Anaheim, but the Red Sox rallied late for a 4-3 victory.
"Obviously, the Red Sox are a great team," Weaver said. "Anybody in that lineup can hurt you. There's not really one guy that I've kind of got my sights on, but at the same time you don't get a breather one through nine. There are certain guys you want to try to keep off the bases, and if you do that, it's going to set up some things for you. And if those guys do get on base, then you have to worry about guys driving them in."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.