Weaver stakes claim to All-Star start with gem

Weaver stakes claim to All-Star start with gem

Weaver stakes claim to All-Star start with gem
ANAHEIM -- American League All-Star manager Ron Washington is to going to have to make a heckuva case to choose someone other than Jered Weaver to start Tuesday's Midsummer Classic.

In his last outing before the break, Weaver (10-1) controlled the Orioles for eight innings, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out five in the Angels' 3-0 win on Saturday night at Angel Stadium.

The win was Weaver's fourth straight victory since coming off the disabled list. His first-half ERA of 1.96 leads the Majors, and he has given up just four runs in 42 2/3 innings (0.84 ERA) in his last seven starts. The Angels' ace joined Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax as only the second pitcher since 1950 to take 10-plus wins with an ERA under 2.00 to the All-Star break in consecutive seasons.

"I don't know if you can ask Jered to do anything else," manager Mike Scioscia said. "If he didn't miss those couple starts, who knows where his numbers would be this half, but he gives us good game after good game and gives us a chance to win."

In 46 2/3 innings at Angel Stadium in 2012, Weaver is 6-0 and has surrendered just three runs (0.58 ERA). He has lost two games, while winning 14, in his last 22 starts at home during the last two seasons.

He gave up a number of hits that reached the warning track, including Jim Thome's off the right-field wall, but Torii Hunter, who threw Thome out at second, and the rest of the Angels' defense helped kept the Orioles off the board. It may be a pitcher-friendly park, Weaver says, but it's one that he completely dominates.

"It's his park," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. "I've seen his career numbers in this park, and they are pretty amazing. We had a couple good chances early and then we let him get in the groove."

The win was the Angels' fourth in their past five games against the Orioles (45-39), but just their second in their last five games overall. With the Rangers' extra-innings win against the Twins, the Angels' deficit in the American League West remained at four games.

After Weaver, Scott Downs came in to record his eighth save of the season and his 500th career strikeout, lowering his ERA to 0.30 in 30 innings this season.

En route to a starting nod in last season's All-Star Game, Weaver went 11-4 with a 1.86 ERA during the first half, ending it with a complete-game, one-run performance against the Mariners. And considering he missed 20 games with a lower back strain less than a month ago, he has made just as good a campaign this year, if not a better, to be the first guy on the hill for the AL once again.

"It's not something that I'm getting my hopes up about," Weaver said. "But to start back-to-back games in the All-Star Game, it'd be pretty cool to join some of the company of the guys that have done it before."

In his first start against the Angels (47-38) since allowing eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings on June 27, Weaver's counterpart Jason Hammel lasted 6 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and four walks. It was his third loss in a row.

The Angels got their first run in the fourth on an RBI single from Howie Kendrick, scoring Mark Trumbo. They had a chance to add to their lead with two outs and men on the corners, but Mike Trout popped to second to end the inning.

They would add two insurance runs in the seventh inning on an RBI double from Hunter and an RBI single from Kendrys Morales.

It was more than Weaver would need, however, as the Orioles never had more than one man on base in an inning against the righty. Hammel would have needed to be nearly perfect to take down Weaver on Saturday.

"Weaver is pretty much unbeatable at home so any runs you give up, it makes it that much harder," Hammel said. "I thought I pitched pretty well, some bad pitches there in the seventh. Just got to be able to get through the seventh there."

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