Rookie, veteran to square off in Angels-A's opener

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Two pitchers who are hitting their stride as the season concludes will face each other when the Oakland Athletics meet the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night to begin a three-game series at Angel Stadium.

Rookie left-hander Sean Manaea has pitched 11 shutout innings in his past two starts for the A's. Veteran right-hander Jered Weaver posted his 150th career win in his last start with the Angels as he continues his finest stretch of the season.

In six starts since Aug. 25, Weaver has gone 4-1 with three quality starts and 31 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings. Before that surge, the 11-year veteran compiled an 0-4 record and a 7.01 ERA in six starts while getting just nine strikeouts and allowing opposing batters to hit .391.

“Everything is starting to come together,” Weaver told MLB.com. “I've been able to throw the ball the way I want to, and the location of all my pitches has been where I want it to be. It's been promising.”

Weaver has been fighting numerous physical problems and declining velocity for three years. But in a testament to his resiliency, the three-time All-Star secured his 150th career win Wednesday night against the Texas Rangers. In six innings, Weaver allowed four runs, six hits and two walks while striking out six in the 5-4 victory.

“He has been incredible for a long time,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia told MLB.com. “He's part of the heart and soul of what we've done. It's great to see him reach some milestones.”

Weaver ranks second to Chuck Finley in career victories for the club. Finley won 165 games between 1986 and 1999.

Manaea, who missed the first two weeks of September because of a strained back, scattered just three hits and a walk while striking out five and throwing 67 pitches during five scoreless innings in his return Sept. 14.

The left-hander combined with three other pitchers in an 8-0 rout of the Kansas City Royals, the team that originally signed Manaea three years ago before sending him to the A's last year in a three-player trade for Ben Zobrist.

“He was great,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin told MLB.com afterward. “It didn't look like he had any time off.”

In this next start on Tuesday night against the Houston Astros, Manaea collected seven strikeouts in six innings while conceding just two walks and three hits. But the Astros rallied for a 2-1 win in 10 innings.

“That was one of his best outings of the season,” A's reliever Sean Doolittle told MLB.com, “and to squander it is incredibly frustrating.”

When Manaea's rookie season began, he lost three of his first four decisions. Now as it ends, the left-hander possesses a newfound confidence that he seeks to refine.

“At the beginning of the season, I didn't really trust my stuff and I was shying away from contact,” Manaea told MLB.com. “Now it just seems like I'm pounding the strike zone and I want those early contact swings. That's been a huge difference from the beginning of the season until now. I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job of that.”