ANAHEIM, CALIF. (AP) - Jered Weaver kept mowing ‘em down, even as he grew wearier with each pitch.
“I’m pretty sure a pitcher can get in a team’s head,” Angels teammate Torii Hunter said. “I’ve seen it happen. But I think anybody that he faced today, he probably would have had their number.”
Less than 24 hours after using all seven of his relievers for the second time in four games to grind out a 14-inning victory _ with starter Dan Haren as his last pitcher _ Angels manager Mike Scioscia needed Weaver to pitch deep into the game in his first home start of the season.
The ace right-hander more than obliged. Weaver allowed a run and four hits while throwing 125 pitches in 7 2-3 innings.
In the eighth, it came down to a showdown between Weaver and Jose Bautista, last year’s major league home run leader. Bautista represented the go-ahead run at the plate after a pair of one-out walks, but Weaver struck him out with his final pitch of the day.
“I’m not going to lie. I was obviously getting a little tired,” Weaver said. “I had too many walks again (four), but I was still able to extend myself as much as possible. … That 3-2 pitch to Bautista was a slider _ and thank God he swung at it, or else it would have been bases loaded.”
Hisanori Takahashi came in to retire cleanup hitter Adam Lind on a comebacker and Fernando Rodney pitched a perfect ninth for his second save.
“I just wanted to go out there, knowing that we had a long one last night, and I wanted to try to extend it as much as possible,” Weaver said. “We were able to get three runs, and that was enough to work with.
“It’s a tough lineup to face, but I had my fastball command early and my slider was as good as it’s been in a long time. So I matched up pretty well with a bunch of righties in the lineup.”
The Angels got some additional help from a costly error by Davis, Toronto’s center fielder, that led to a pair of unearned runs in the fourth. Peter Bourjos drove them in with a triple, helping Los Angeles take two of three in the series.
Weaver became the first Angels pitcher with 15 strikeouts in a game since May 23, 1995, when Chuck Finley fanned 15 Yankees and pitched a two-hitter in a 10-0 win at the Big A.
“I’m not going out there trying to strike everybody out,” Weaver said. “I’m just trying to get a first-pitch fastball over for a strike and trying to get ahead in the count and trying to keep my team in the game. And if it takes a couple of strikeouts here and there, then that’s what it’s going to take.”
Weaver, whose 233 strikeouts last year made him the first Angels pitcher to lead the big leagues in that category since Nolan Ryan in 1977, faced a team that produced a major league-best 257 home runs and fanned seven of his first 10 batters. He beat the Blue Jays for the fifth straight time, improving to 7-1 against them with a 2.68 ERA.
“He hit his spots in and out, hard and soft, and he was hitting the corners with his changeup,” Hunter said. “He had 15 strikeouts, so not too many people were going to hit him today.”