Jered Weaver Demise a Bit Premature?

Facing the high-flying, hard-hitting, first-place Houston Astros tonight, Jered Weaver silenced critics who felt perhaps his time as a front line starter may had come to an end. Entering the game with a 0-4 record, an embarrassing 6.29 ERA, and a fastball several MPH off from last season, Weaver was masterful tonight, pitching a complete game, six-hit shutout, walking none and fanning six. No Astros’ runner made it as far as second

base in the game, and his fastball hit a high of 89, a good five to seven MPH faster than the best that he had been recording over his first six starts.

As I wrote just a few day ago, the Angels have missed opportunities this young season because of pitching and catching deficiencies, but with the arrival of rookie catcher Carlos Perez, better performances from set-up guy Joe Smith, and tonight's outstanding game from Weaver, the ship seems to be righting itself. Unfortunately,
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usually reliable closer Huston Street has had a bad few days, preventing the Angels from closing the gap, so far, against the Astros.

Perez drove in one of the Angels’ two runs in tonight’s 2-0 victory, and after his first three big league games is hitting higher – .300, than the team’s other two catchers COMBINED (Chris Iannetta – .091 plus Drew Buters – .190 = .281). What is even more astounding is that in his three games Perez has double the RBI – TWO, than these other two players COMBINED – ONE, in 77 less at bats!

Since I criticized the pitching of Smith, he has rebounded with two excellent outings, throwing two scoreless innings allowing a single base hit and preserving two leads, despite the team eventually losing one of those games. And that brings us to Street, the until-recently invincible closer who until this week had been nine of nine in save opportunities while compiling a 0.90 ERA. On Wednesday, after Smith protected the Angels’ lead in a scoreless eighth inning, Street blew the save in the ninth, allowing the tying run to score, but he picked up the win when Perez hit a bottom of the ninth walk-off game winning

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home run. But then last night, in the first of the four game series with the Astros, Street entered the ninth with the job of protecting a 2-0 lead for Hector Santiago, but he could retire only two batters while allowing a walk, four singles, and three runs, getting dinged with the loss in a 3-2 defeat.

So, the good news of the excellent play of the team’s new catcher, the great effort tonight from Weaver, and the return to form by Smith, is all welcomed, but the Angels must also have a quick turnaround from Street if they are to improve on their 14-16 record.

The second place Angels will have Matt Shoemaker and Garrett Richards starting the next two games against Houston, and they really need a couple of victories, not just to get to that .500 plateau, but also to narrow their five game deficit. That is easier said than done, as tomorrow they face Astros’ ace lefty Dallas Keuchel, who with his 3-0 record, 0.76

WHIP and 0.80 ERA has pitched as well as, and probably better than, any other major league pitcher so far this season. Amazingly, Keuchel has given up a grand total of only 21 base hits over six starts and 45 innings pitched.

On a final note, it's great to see former Angel Peter Bourjos getting some playing time in St. Louis and playing really well. Bourjos, the best center fielder in baseball who has had ups and
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downs at the plate through his career, has gone 11 for his last 24 at bats, raising his season’s average to .353. With the total lack of offense that the Angels have had in left field so far this season, an outfield of Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun and Bourjos would look pretty good right now.

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