No one will be more comfortable than Angels right-hander Jered Weaver, who will get the starting nod in Game 3 -- slated for a 1:13 p.m. PT first pitch on FOX on Monday at Angel Stadium -- in his natural environment. And it's a big start, indeed.
The 27-year-old product of Northridge, Calif., may not be the Angels' ace in the hole, but he is their ace at home. And if the Angels are going to have any shot of redeeming themselves after an 0-2 start to this best-of-seven set, he'll have to be at his best.
If Weaver is feeling the pressure of the situation, he doesn't display it. His is a truly Californian, mellow demeanor.
"I'm mellow off the field," he explained. "But once you step between the lines, I'm sure a lot of people will say you turn into a different person. So I'm very competitive. I like pitching in big games."
It doesn't get much bigger than this, but Weaver can't afford to treat his start that way.
"You try to treat the game just like any other game," he said. "It would have been nice to get one of the two in New York. But you know, we are where we are. We're not going to quit. We're never a team that's going to give up, despite the numbers or what anybody else says. We're going to go out there and battle."
Weaver appears well-equipped for any battle on his own turf.In 17 starts at Angel Stadium during the regular season, Weaver went 9-3 with a 2.90 ERA. And in Game 2 of the AL Division Series against the Red Sox, he tossed a brilliant batch of 7 1/3 innings in which he allowed just a run on two hits to earn the victory.
|2009 REGULAR SEASON|
|Overall||14-8, 32 GS, 4.16 ERA, 76 BBs, 148 Ks||6-8, 33 GS, 3.75 ERA, 66 BBs, 174 Ks|
|Key stat||218 1/3 career postseason innings pitched||7.4 Ks/9 IP this year|
|Career||15-9 36 GS, 3.89 ERA, 61 BBs, 146 Ks||2-1, 3 G (2 GS), 1.88 ERA, 6 BBs, 15 Ks|
|AT ANGEL STADIUM|
|2009||0-2, 2 GS, 7.84 ERA, 8 BBs, 6 Ks||9-3, 17 GS, 2.90 ERA, 27 BBs, 99 Ks|
|Career||6-7,16 GS, 4.19 ERA, 32 BBs, 79 Ks||27-12, 53 GS, 3.27 ERA, 82 BBs, 270 Ks|
|AGAINST THIS OPPONENT|
|2009 regular season||0-2, 2 GS, 7.88 ERA, 8 BBs, 6 Ks||1-1, 3 GS, 5.59 ERA, 9 BBs, 13 Ks|
|Career||12-10, 45 GS, 4.38 ERA, 87 BBs, 214 Ks||4-2,7 GS, 4.88 ERA, 18 BBs, 34 Ks|
|Loves to face||Kendry Morales, 0-for-5, 1 K||Derek Jeter, 2-for-17, 2 Ks|
|Hates to face||Erick Aybar, 7-for-16, 2 RBIs||Alex Rodriguez 5-for-15, 4 HRs|
|Why he'll win||Postseason experience||Pitches well at home|
|Pitcher beware||Has struggled against Angels in his career||Allowed 26 homers this year|
|Bottom line||Can he add to postseason legacy?||Can he continue to pitch well in the postseason?|
Compare that to Weaver's respectable-but-not-as-sparkling 7-5 record and 4.78 ERA on the road, and you understand why manager Mike Scioscia has arranged his rotation in both rounds of the postseason to have Weaver pitching on his home soil.
The Angels, of course, have put themselves in a position that goes beyond home-road splits. And so they'll be leaning on Weaver's intangible qualities, as well.
"Weaver is a guy whose makeup is terrific," Scioscia said. "He competes as well as any pitcher in baseball. And I think he's not scared off if a guy has a good swing and squares up a ball. He knows what his game plan is and keeps making pitches. I think that's what has helped him to put himself into a different class of pitcher. This guy's one of the top pitchers in our league."
And he was on top of his game against the Red Sox. Scioscia compared that outing against Boston in the ALDS to the gem CC Sabathia tossed against his Angels in Game 1 of the ALCS.
Scioscia said what stood out about Weaver was "his ability to control both sides of the plate, get into the zone with his fastball, change speeds, and he really had a power breaking ball that he was using on offspeed counts at times, too. So he had everything working in balance. ... He really was in pitcher's counts the whole night."
The Angels, who went 4-2 against the Yanks at Angel Stadium during the regular season, will be looking to take full advantage of the benefits of home cooking. If that first postseason start is any indication, Weaver is ready to provide it.
Weaver, though, hasn't always had fun against the potent New York lineup. While he's compiled a 4-2 record against the Yankees in seven career starts, he's posted a 5.88 ERA in the process. In three starts against them this season, he went 1-1 with a 5.59 ERA, yielding 13 runs (12 earned) over 19 1/3 innings.
But Weaver has done an excellent job taming some of the most potent bats in the Yanks' lineup. Mark Teixeira is 6-for-23 in his career off Weaver, Derek Jeter is 2-for-17, Johnny Damon is 3-for-19 and Hideki Matsui is 2-for-10.
The Bombers who give Weaver the most trouble are Robinson Cano (6-for-15) and Alex Rodriguez (5-for-15, with four homers).
Weaver should be fresh for Game 3, considering his last start came Oct. 9. Rather than leave Weaver in the No. 2 slot of the postseason rotation, Scioscia held him back a game to give sinkerball-tossing left-hander Joe Saunders a chance to negate the impact of Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch and to ensure Weaver will again start at home. Saunders pitched brilliantly in Game 2, limiting New York to two runs over seven frames in the Halos' 4-3, 13-inning defeat.
The Angels already had the disadvantage of opening the ALCS in the Bronx's unwelcoming temperatures and environment, and they dug themselves deeper with losses in Games 1 and 2. Since the advent of a best-of-seven LCS in 1985, only three of the teams that fell into 0-2 holes recovered to win the series. An 0-3 hole would be all but inescapable, so the onus is on Weaver to calm the waters.
"I'm going to treat it just like we were up 20, or tied 11," he said. "So anyway you look at it, I'm going to treat the game the same way. I'm going to go out there and have fun and try to locate."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.