Vintage Weaver pitches Halos past Yankees

Righty superb over eight; three Angels runs via bases-loaded walks

Vintage Weaver pitches Halos past Yankees

ANAHEIM -- If this were any other start this season, Jered Weaver doesn't even get a chance to work out of the bases-loaded, none-out jam that set off a tornado of emotions, bled into a six-walk inning by the offense, and rallied the Angels to a 4-1 win over the Yankees.

But Angels manager Mike Scioscia sensed something different about his ace right-hander on this Monday night.

The fastball was crisp, the command was there, the location was pinpoint, and unlike so many other times this season -- like the 95-pitch, 6 1/3-inning outing on March 31, the 99-pitch, 6 2/3-inning outing on April 12, or the 82-pitch, six-inning outing on April 23 -- Weaver maintained his stuff as the night got late and the pitch count mounted.

"I've always felt, since Day 1, that I was going to get stronger as the season went on, and I think we saw a little glimpse of that today," said Weaver, now 3-2 with a 3.48 ERA through seven starts.

"Hopefully this is a step in the right direction."

After Kelly Johnson's liner ricocheted off the glove of Howie Kendrick, and Brian Roberts reached despite a diving stop by Erick Aybar, and Ichiro Suzuki laid down the perfect bunt, Weaver was at 98 pitches, with the bases loaded, none out and a 1-1 tie on the scoreboard.

"One thing he does," Scioscia said of Weaver, "is he's able to control his emotions and focus on making a pitch."

The same couldn't be said about Joe Girardi. After Weaver's low-and-away, 1-0 fastball to Brett Gardner was called a strike by Laz Diaz, the Yankees' manager went into a tirade, spiking his cap on the grass twice after being ejected and turning red as he voiced his frustration to the umpiring crew.

"It's a 1-0 count," Girardi said. "You get a pitch called 1-1, and it changes the whole at-bat."

Two pitches later, Weaver got Gardner to chase a high, 87-mph fastball and got the strikeout he needed with the infield in. And on the very next pitch, Derek Jeter -- the retiring shortstop who's playing in his final series at Angel Stadium and drew a standing ovation from a Yankees-heavy crowd before his first plate appearance -- hit a one-hopper to Kendrick that resulted in an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play and drew a barrage of emotion from an elated Weaver as he walked off the mound.

The 31-year-old right-hander had just pitched a season-high eight innings while giving up just one run, giving up six hits, walking one and striking out a season-high seven batters. As Scioscia said, "Jered had the best stuff we've seen all year, by far."

Asked what he said to Chris Iannetta at that point, Weaver smirked.

"You can read lips."

The Yankees scored zero runs despite getting three hits in the top of the eighth; the Angels scored three runs despite getting zero hits in the bottom of the eighth.

Against Shawn Kelley, Collin Cowgill worked a full-count walk to start the bottom of the eighth, Albert Pujols was walked intentionally with two outs and first base open, Raul Ibanez pinch-hit for C.J. Cron and worked an eight-pitch walk to load the bases, and Kendrick took four of five pitches for balls to give his team the lead.

Next up, John McDonald pinch-hit for Ian Stewart against lefty Matt Thornton and drew his 112th walk in 2,577 career plate appearances, and his second in 59 chances with the bases loaded. Then it was Iannetta's turn, drawing a bases-loaded walk against Preston Claiborne to balloon the lead to three.

It was the second time in franchise history that the Angels drew at least six walks in an inning -- they also drew eight in the eighth inning on July 4, 1979 -- and the second time any team has drawn that many in a single frame all season. The last team to draw three bases-loaded walks in an inning was the Padres on April 17, 2012, against the Dodgers.

And it was Weaver who helped set the tone for that.

"Without a doubt," Cowgill said. "And not just for us, man, it's kind of a letdown for the other side, no matter who it is. If you have bases loaded, one out, with a Hall of Famer up, and you get him to ground into a double play, that's huge. That's a huge swing. That ball goes through, who knows what's happens?"

Weaver now has a 1.78 ERA in his last four starts, giving up five runs in 25 1/3 innings while striking out 18 and walking six -- and he may be trending upward.

For roughly six months, after suffering a broken left elbow in Texas on April 7 of last season, Weaver couldn't really work out. And now is when he says he's finally starting to regain the strength on his beleaguered right arm. After his last start against the Indians, Weaver mostly ditched the core-stability workouts and got back in the weight room to do "the old-school lifting again," which he believes can "take some of the tension off" a bicep tendon that has been tender for most of his career.

"It's just a matter of getting that strength back of being able to maintain that through nine innings," Weaver said. "Obviously it's not going to happen over night; it's a bit of a process. But hopefully this is a glimpse of what's to come."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.