ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Three days before his third straight All-Star game, Jered Weaver again displayed the form that has made the midsummer classic a regular part of his schedule.
The Los Angeles Angels’ ace scattered three hits over eight innings Saturday night in a 3-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. His glittering performance may have earned Weaver a second straight All-Star start, depending on what AL manager Ron Washington decides.
“To be able to start back-to-back All-Star games would be pretty sweet,” Weaver said. “It was an honor to start last year, but there are some other candidates throwing the ball real well in the American League. So it’s not something I’m getting my hopes up about. Hopefully, I can just get out there and throw an inning. But we’ll see what happens.”
Weaver (10-1) won his fourth straight start since coming off the disabled list, allowing just one run over 27 2-3 innings during that stretch after missing three weeks with a lower back strain. The right-hander struck out five and walked one while lowering his ERA to a major league-best 1.96.
Weaver joined Sandy Koufax (1963-64) as the only pitchers since 1950 with consecutive seasons of double-digit wins and an ERA under 2.00 before the All-Star break. During his seven-year career, the Angels’ ace is 59-26 with a 2.84 ERA in 110 starts before the All-Star break. Last season he was 11-4 with a 1.86 ERA in 19 starts before the break.
“I had less losses in the first half this year than last year, which is pretty good because it means that I’ve been able to keep the team in the game and give us a chance to win,” Weaver said. “And our offense has been spectacular the last two months, so there’s been a lot of help on the team’s end to get me to where I’m at.”
Weaver improved to 14-2 at home since the start of last season.
“Any starting pitcher will tell you that it’s more comfortable to pitch at home,” he said. “You get that white uniform on and you know that the home crowd’s going to be supporting and be behind you. That’s a very comfortable feeling. This is a pitcher’s park, there’s no question about that, so it’s easier to let some pitches go instead of trying to be too fine.”
A good example of how Angel Stadium plays for Weaver was demonstrated by Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters, who flied out to the warning track in the fourth and seventh innings.
“They’ve got a lot of guys in their lineup that can hurt you,” Weaver said. “Obviously, I got away with some pitches that they hit to the warning track, and that misty air kind of knocked them down.”
Scott Downs pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save in eight attempts.
Jason Hammel (8-5) gave up three runs, six hits and four walks over 6 2-3 innings and struck out four. He also hooked up against Weaver on June 26 at Baltimore, and was charged with eight runs in 3 1-3 innings that night in a 13-1 loss after bringing a 19-inning scoreless streak into the game.
“I made a lot of adjustments from that game. I pitched inside a lot more and it was very effective against a team that makes contact as much as they do,” Hammel said. “They were diving out and getting balls on the outer half the last time, so anything that I was able to change from that outing to this one was definitely good.”
Mark Trumbo led off the Angels’ fourth with a single and legged it to second after left fielder Xavier Avery misplayed the ball for the Orioles’ major league-worst 75th error. Trumbo got to third after tagging up on Alberto Callaspo’s flyout to the warning track in center, and Kendrick singled sharply to the right of second base with the infield playing in.
Angels Gold Glove right fielder Torii Hunter helped choke off an Orioles threat in the seventh when he played the carom perfectly off the 18-foot wall on a single by slugger Jim Thome and threw out the 41-year-old designated hitter at second base with the Angels still leading 1-0.
“He pushed the envelope there,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Torii is a good thrower and Jimmy understands the situation.”
The Halos tacked on two more runs in the bottom half with a two-out RBI double by Hunter and an RBI single by Kendrys Morales. But it was the speed of rookie Mike Trout that kept the inning going for Hunter, as the 20-year-old rookie beat the relay to first base on a potential inning-ending double-play grounder to second baseman Robert Andino.
“He’s a catalyst for that team, and we’ve seen it since he’s come up. They’ve been a completely different team,” Hammel said. “I made a good pitch there and he hit it into the ground, but with his speed he was able to keep the inning alive.”
NOTES: Orioles 1B Joe Mahoney was 0 for 3 in his major league debut, two days after his contract was purchased from Norfolk. He was a sixth-round draft pick in 2007 out of the University of Richmond. … Weaver will be the fourth pitcher in Angels history to represent them in three consecutive All-Star games. The others were LHP Mark Langston (1991-93), LHP Frank Tanana (1976-78) and RHP Ken McBride (1961-1963).