For the first time in a long time the Los Angeles Angel claim sole possession of Major League Baseball’s best record. Unlike perennial playoff teams of the mid-00s, they’ve depended on solid pitching rather than consistent hitting.
Garrett Richards’ team-leading 13 wins, 2.53 ERA, and 1.01 WHIP rank among the American League top five. Four of five Halo starters have 10 wins, and Tyler Skaggs may have been in the group were it not for a season-ending arm injury.
The once-atrocious bullpen is now a strength. Angels relievers carry a 3.49 ERA-compared to their 4.12 mark last season-and an AL West leading 22 wins. From a rejuvenated Kevin Jepsen to the biggest under-the-radar trade deadline acquisition of Huston Street, there is dependability going into the late innings.
All while Halo hitters struggle to make contact.
No one is batting over .300. Mike Trout struggled through a 1-for-19 slump over the last week , though he notched two hits against Boston last night. Josh Hamilton took a “mental day” on Sunday and was omitted from the lineup again yesterday.
Even their series opening win over the Red Sox wasn’t without missed opportunities. The Angels went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base. An eighth inning error was they saving grace. Howie Kendrick should have grounded into an inning-ending double play but Junichi Tazawa couldn’t field it cleanly, giving the Angels a 4-1 lead.
The Angels travel to Oakland following their four-game set at Fenway Park. Their offense needs a jump start ahead of the decisive weekend series.
Lower back stiffness forced Jered Weaver to leave a July start against Toronto early. He’s struggled to regain control since.
The right-hander’s ERA ballooned by 4.09 in seven starts following the two-inning appearance. Weaver has won four of five decisions but allowed six or more hits in all but one outing; a 10-6 win over Texas.
The Angels won an offensive showdown with Philadelphia last Wednesday behind Weaver’s eight-hit, two-run effort where he completed six frames for the third consecutive start. It’s been an unpredictable season for the mercurial ace. One day he’ll resemble an All-Star. The next, Weaver will pitch himself out of the ballgame as he has done so many times against Boston.
Weaver owns a 4-6 record and 4.11 ERA lifetime against the Red Sox. They crushed him for four runs on seven hits earlier this season. Success at Fenway Park is hard to come boy for Weaver, who owns a 6.35 ERA with two wins in seven starts.
Allen Webster outdueled Weaver at Angel Stadium two weeks ago, limiting the Halos to two runs on four hits. The young righty followed that with a 3-1 win over Houston last Thursday, running his career home record to 2-2 with a 7.36 ERA.
- The Angels haven’t had sole possession of first place since May 2011.
- Mike Napoli is hitting .345 off Weaver with three solo home runs.
- Trout’s double last night was his first extra-base hit since August 10.
TV: 4:10 p.m. PT, Fox Sports West, NESN
Radio: KLAA 830, WEEI 93.7