Angels-Red Sox Preview
If the Los Angeles Angels are to reverse their downward spiral in the AL playoff chase, they'll likely need their ace to get back on his game.
Fenway Park may not be the ideal place for Jered Weaver to do that.
Weaver looks to end his struggles in Boston and lead the Angels to a second straight win Wednesday night when they continue their three-game set against the stumbling Red Sox.
Weaver (15-3, 2.74 ERA) had been enjoying a career year, winning nine straight starts and 10 consecutive decisions in a streak that lasted from mid-May through early August. He had a solid outing in a 4-1 loss to Seattle on Aug. 12, allowing three runs over seven innings, but his most recent start was another story.
The right-hander gave up a career-high nine runs in Friday's 12-3 loss to Tampa Bay, seven of them during a fourth inning in which he failed to record an out. The nightmarish performance sent Weaver's ERA skyrocketing more than one-half run from 2.22.
"Jered's a guy who's been pitching really well, and sometimes you have games like this. But that's baseball,'' Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick said. "I'm pretty sure he'll bounce back his next start and keep moving forward.''
The Angels (63-60) have spent much of August moving in the opposite direction. After entering the month 10 games above .500 and within three games of AL West-leading Texas, Los Angeles has dropped 13 of 19 and fallen well off the pace, though it did bounce back from a four-game sweep versus Tampa Bay with a 5-3 victory in Tuesday's series opener.
Mark Trumbo hit his 30th homer, surpassing the total from his 2011 rookie season, and current rookie Mike Trout had a pair of hits to give him 139 through 100 games - the most by a rookie since Tony Oliva had 144 for Minnesota in 1964.
Facing a Red Sox club seemingly playing out the string in a lost season might be just what Weaver needs, but he'll have to overcome his own poor history pitching in Boston. Weaver is 1-3 with a 7.16 ERA at Fenway, his highest ERA at any park. He's also lost three straight outings against the Red Sox overall, and his five losses to Boston are his most versus any opponent not in the AL West.
Like Los Angeles, the Red Sox (59-64) are 6-13 in August. Unlike the Angels, they are five games below .500 for the first time since May 12. The latest sign Boston is no longer in contention came Tuesday when the club placed outfielder Carl Crawford on the disabled list with a left elbow injury that will require reconstructive surgery, ending his season after 31 games.
Designated hitter David Ortiz remains sidelined, as he's been since July 18 with a strained right Achilles.
"You're talking about two big pieces on this team,'' right fielder Cody Ross said. "But at the same time, every team has superstars that get hurt throughout the year. We have to pick those guys up and we're not doing it.''
One of Boston's bright spots continues to be Clay Buchholz (11-3, 4.19), who will get the ball Wednesday.
Buchholz had a 7.19 ERA at the end of May but has been easily the best starter on the Red Sox since, going 7-1 with a league-best 2.16 ERA in 11 outings since the beginning of June.
The right-hander has been even better in his last six starts, going 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA and giving up three runs or fewer in each of them. He yielded three runs in eight innings of Thursday's 6-3 victory at Baltimore.
Buchholz is 5-2 with a 3.95 ERA versus the Angels in seven starts, winning each of the last four.