After a seemingly endless week of falling behind early and virtually losing games before they started, the Angels turned the tables on Wednesday night, getting off to a fast start and giving Jered Weaver plenty of run support on the way to his fifth win of the season. Chone Figgins opened the game with a single, and before Blue Jays starter Casey Janssen knew what had hit him, Bobby Abreu drove a pitch over the center field wall, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead.
It turned out those two runs were all they needed, though they would add six more. Jered Weaver was dominant in one of his best performances as a professional. He struck out a career high 10 hitters. He carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Adam Lind and Lyle Overbay combined for two doubles and the Blue Jays' only run. Weaver lasted seven innings, allowing only three hits and two walks. He lowered his ERA to 2.26, second in the AL only to Zach Greinke's otherwordly 1.10. 72 of his 107 pitches went for strikes. Weaver appears to be in line to become the Angels' fourth starting pitcher to be selected to the All-Star game in the last three seasons.
The offensive explosion was unncessary, but still enjoyable. Figgins added two doubles to his first inning single, pushing hit batting average over .300. Bobby Abreu homered, doubled, and drove in four runs. Vladimir Guerrero, Maicer Izturis, and Erick Aybar each recorded two hits, as the Angels finished the game with 13, seven of which went for extra bases.
Thoughts on the game:
- Blame it on the contract year, but Chone Figgins has been an ideal lead off man this year. He's getting on base at a .380 clip, and has stolen 20 bases, while only being thrown out four times. He saw more pitches (23) than any other Angel last night, which is what a lead off hitter is supposed to do. With Bobby Abreu's .390 OBP and 15 stolen bases in 15 tries, the Angels' offensive woes don't start at the top.
- Jered Weaver is finally fulfilling the promise he showed in his first string of starts, and he couldn't be doing it at a more important time. With Lackey and Santana struggling, and Saunders running hot and cold, Weaver has been the Angels' ace. He's doing everything a pitcher with his velocity needs to do. He's commanding the strike zone, he's throwing everything in his arsenal for strikes, and he's keeping hitters off balance. Best of all, he's fun to watch.
- Two solid innings in relief from Jason Bulger and Jose Arredondo last night. Still looking for signs of life from the bullpen. This may be a mirage, but it's nice to see for one night. On April 25th, Bulger had an ERA of 12.86. Since that date he's allowed only one earned run and 13 baserunners in 15.1 innings, lowering his ERA to 4.43. He's struck out 13 in that stretch. If this is for real, he may be pitching eighth innings a lot from here on out.