Even coming into this season, there was little doubt who the ace is in Anaheim. But, good lord, can I please pick my jaw up off the floor for a second?
Jered Weaver is throwing some of the ugliest, nastiest, most hateful – and now unhittable – pitches Angel fans have seen in a very long time. He wasn’t perfect, but Jered Weaver joined figures like Nolan Ryan and his teammate Ervin Santana in the record books as he tossed a no-hitter against the Minnesota Twins.
As a fan, I am a relatively detached observer. I will never, ever feel what Weaver feels when he takes the mound. And I, miles away, was a nervous wreck as the game wore on. I could not begin to imagine dealing with the kind of pressure pitching a no-hitter must put on a human being.
Weaver, though, dealt with it the way only an ace can – by settling down and finishing the job. Several closeups showed Weaver’s face as he came in to close out the ninth, and it was then realized there was no way Weaver was born with sweat glands. Aside from the expected heavy breathing, Weaver looked like he was still pitching the top of the first. In fact, his fastball hit 91 miles per hour in the ninth, the hardest he had thrown all night.
With apologies to Tim Lincecum, he looked like an absolute freak.
The no-hitter was Weaver’s second complete game of the season. His nine strikeouts were not even his season-high; he struck out 10 batters on opening day. His ERA shrank from 2.02 to 1.61 in one start, which is best in the American League. Weaver currently leads the majors with 45 strikeouts.
It’s still early, and no ace is without his rough patches. But there’s no denying Weaver is one of the absolute best hurlers in the game right now.
Wednesday’s game was the second consecutive complete-game shutout thrown by an Angels starter. Jerome Williams pitched nine shutout innings of his own the day before. Weaver and his band of merry bandits, who have delivered four consecutive quality starts for the Halos, are setting the tone for a team in desperate need of confidence.
Said confidence reared its fearsome head on Wednesday. Howie Kendrick and Kendrys Morales both went deep in an outstanding nine-run performance by the Angels offense. Morales, in fact, was a triple short of hitting for the cycle. Wednesday’s game was also the second consecutive game in which an Angel was one hit shy of the cycle. With such a potent rotation backing them up, it looks like the pressure is off the Halo bats. It really has showed, particularly with regard to plate discipline. I’ve seen some fantastic at-bats and plenty of walks of late. A relaxed clubhouse will most likely stop forcing the issue at the plate. The hits have indeed come to the offense, and, dare I say it, they’re getting back to playing “small ball” a lot more.
Now, it is still very early in the season, and the Twins aren’t exactly favorites to win the pennant. But considering the Halos struggled against this same club not long ago, it may very well be time to exhale in Anaheim. The fact of the matter is they’re winning, and from a fan’s perspective, Angels baseball is fun again.