One day after being eliminated in the AL West race, the Los Angeles Angels get another glimpse at the pitcher they hope will keep them in contention for many years to come.
The 23-year-old Weaver (11-2, 2.32 ERA) takes the mound one day after the Angels had their two-year run atop the AL West officially end. Los Angeles’ 5-2 loss Tuesday, coupled with Oakland’s 12-3 win at Seattle, eliminated the Angels from the playoff race.
“We just didn’t reach our goal,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We just got to get better. From the defensive side, all year was a struggle. Our offensive chemistry was nonexistent early in the year. We set ourselves pretty far behind early.”
Weaver has a chance to bolster his case for the AL rookie of the year award after emerging as key starter for the Angels this season. He would be the first Angel since Tim Salmon in 1993 to win it.
The right-hander won nine of his first 12 starts and posted a 1.95 ERA after being called up from Triple-A Salt Lake on May 26. Ironically, his emergence made older brother Jeff expendable, and the Angels dealt him to the St. Louis Cardinals on July 5 for minor leaguer Terry Evans.
Weaver is 2-2 with a 3.08 ERA in his last six starts, but he also has received only nine runs of support. He allowed four runs and five hits—three of them home runs—in 7 2-3 innings of Los Angeles’ 5-4, 12-inning loss Friday to Oakland.
“I felt like I threw the ball well but a couple of pitches they hit out of the park,” Weaver said. “But there isn’t much you can to but shake your head.”
He gets a third opportunity to beat the Rangers, after failing to record a decision in either of his previous two outings against them. He has allowed only three runs in 13 innings over those starts, but has only been supported by two runs.
Weaver was superb against Texas on Sept. 15, throwing seven innings of one-hit ball with nine strikeouts and three walks of a 2-1, 11-inning win for the Angels.
The Rangers counter with Adam Eaton (7-4, 4.80), who will try to win his fifth consecutive decision in six starts. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 4.40 ERA in his last five outings, but opponents are hitting .328 with five homers against him.
The Rangers hoped Eaton could make them a playoff contender after acquiring him in a six-player, offseason deal that saw right-hander Chris Young and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez go to San Diego, but he missed almost all of the first four months of the season following surgery on his right middle finger.
Eaton, who is a free agent after the season, is hoping his season-ending surge can help him land a new contract with the Rangers or a World Series competitor in 2007.
“I want to win the World Series,” Eaton said. “That’s foremost what I want to look at when I choose a place to play. People remember you not for how much money you make, but how many World Series you win and how you perform in the playoffs.”
Eaton is 2-1 with a 5.65 ERA in three starts against the Angels this season.