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.