After extending their winning streak with the help of an outstanding pitching performance, the Los Angeles Angels hope another one of their top starters can show he's healthy after having his last outing cut short.
Jered Weaver will try to bounce back Saturday night when the Angels seek their sixth straight victory over the plummeting Texas Rangers and 18th win in 22 games overall.All-Star snub Garrett Richards allowed five hits over seven innings of a 3-0 victory Friday, giving him a 7-0 mark and 1.27 ERA in his past eight starts."We played a much crisper game," manager Ron Washington said after his club dropped its sixth straight. "It's tough when you have to face a guy like Richards."Now the Rangers will have to face Weaver (9-6, 3.50 ERA) as Los Angeles (55-37) seeks a fourth straight victory while improving on its MLB-best 24-9 record since June 6.Weaver makes his first start for the Angels since getting a scare Monday, when he threw two hitless innings before injuring his back fielding a comebacker in a 5-2 home win over Toronto.Manager Mike Scioscia thought about skipping the right-hander's spot to give him rest heading into the All-Star break. But since Weaver said he felt "awesome" in a bullpen session Wednesday, he's been given the opportunity to continue his recent success against Texas.Weaver has gone 4-8 with a 4.84 ERA in 18 career starts in Arlington, but he's given up two runs over 15 innings in his last two meetings overall. He held the Rangers (38-55) to one run over eight innings of a 3-2, 10-inning home win June 21.Texas' Alex Rios, who had two of his team's six hits Friday, is 5 for 27 with nine strikeouts against Weaver. All-Star Adrian Beltre has hit .216 in 74 career at-bats in the matchup, though he's batting .411 during a 15-game hitting streak.Shin-Soo Choo has a .196 average over his last 12 games, but has batted .412 in his career against Weaver.Texas starters have struggled during the team's 3-20 stretch, posting a 7.25 ERA. The Rangers own the worst record in baseball and have their poorest mark at this point in a season since 2003.Texas will hand the ball to struggling Miles Mikolas (0-1, 12.46), who makes his third career start after allowing nine runs and 12 hits over 3 1/3 innings of Monday's 12-7 home loss to Houston."You can throw strikes, but you have to make them quality," Washington said.Mikolas gave up two hits over four scoreless innings in two relief appearances against the Angels in 2012 with San Diego. He'll face a Los Angeles team that has averaged 6.3 runs and hit .304 over its last 18 games.Albert Pujols is 16 for 33 with three homers and 12 RBIs in his last eight contests after finishing with two hits Friday. All-Star Mike Trout hit his 22nd home run, leaving him with a .375 average, nine homers and 24 RBIs in 24 career games at Texas."The team chemistry is unbelievable," Trout said. "We have to keep thinking one game at a time. We can't look too far ahead."
Adrian Beltre has hit .347 this season in at-bats to end in an off-speed pitch, second-best among qualifiers. Jered Weaver has allowed a .251 average in such at-bats this year, the seventh highest among 33 pitchers who throw off-speed pitches at least 40 percent of the time.