The underlying story going to into tonight’s series opener with St. Louis Cardinals was Albert Pujols finally squaring off against his old team and how would everyone react, yadda yadda yadda. Pujols, went 0-3 with a walk. Book closed. The real story was that fresh off a sweep of the Houston Astros, the Angels were now going up against a legitimate team, with legitimate players, and a crazy-good run differential. Mission accepted.
On the mound for the Angels tonight was Jered Weaver. Fresh off one of his better performances of the season against the Tigers last week, Weaver looked every bit as good against the Cardinals. Hurling seven innings of one-run ball, allowing six hits while striking out five and walking none. The Simi Valley native even had a little extra giddy-up to his fastball tonight. Routinely hitting the upper-80′s while topping out at 91 a few times. Concerns about his velocity be damned, Weaver is starting to look dialed-in, and Angels fans know exactly what that can mean for this club.
With Lance Lynn on the mound for the Cardinals, Weaver needed to be good. But with an offensive outburst in the second inning, his job got exponentially easier. The Angels registered six hits in that five-run second, all of them singles. RBI singles from Mark Trumbo, Alberto Callaspo, Erick Aybar and J.B. Shuck were good for the first four runs of the inning. Mike Trout brought in the fifth when he reached base on a force attempt at second that the Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter botched. Allowing Aybar to scamper home with the fifth run of the inning.
Jepsen, who relieved Weaver, was bad Jepsen. He faced three hitters in the eighth inning, and all of them reached on singles. Mike Scioscia, much to the delight of Angels fans, had seen enough, and removed Jepsen in favor of Scott Downs. Downs struck out the first batter he faced, Matt Adams on three pitches. The next batter, David Freese, hit a shot to the right of Mark Trumbo. Trumbo lunged, stabbed the baseball, fired to Aybar who relayed it back to Downs for a slick 3-6-1 double play. Even Downs was fired up, pumping his fist after the play was completed.
After a heartburn inducing eighth inning, Dane De La Rosa provided no such drama in the ninth. Setting the Cardinals down in order, and sending Angels fans home happy after a 5-1 victory for their seventh consecutive win. Mission accomplished.
The win puts the Angels season mark at 40-43 going into Wednesday nights matchup pitting Jerome Williams against Shelby Miller. Game time is set for 7:05 PM PST. Light up the halo. This team could be for real.