DETROIT -- An offensive barrage that featured a pair of two-run home runs from Howie Kendrick and a three-run shot from Albert Pujols — career homer No. 497 — was impressive and, it turns out, necessary for the Angels, who made things far too interesting by throwing an incendiary device by the name of Josh Wall into the proceedings Friday night.
Far more important in the big picture, though, was the Jered Weaver-like performance the Angels got from their ace, who shook off a trio of shaky starts with a superb six-inning, one-run, three-hit effort in an 11-6 win over the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Weaver showed better command of his fastball and kept the Tigers off balance by mixing his curve and changeup effectively. Of his 100 pitches, 66 were strikes, including a full-count, 78-mph changeup to whiff cleanup batter Victor Martinez with two on to end the third inning, preserving a 4-1 lead.
Weaver struck out three, walked three and induced 12 fly-ball outs to earn his first win and help the Angels extend their win streak over the Tigers to 10 dating to September 2012. The Angels have outscored Detroit, 69-28, during that stretch.
"He's a big part of our team, he's been our ace for five years, and when he goes out there and does that, it sets the tone for the rest of the rotation," Kendrick said. "I've played with him for a long time, going back to Class-A ball, and when he keeps the ball down and mixes his pitches, that's when he's most effective."
Weaver was not very effective in his first three starts. Not only was the right-hander 0-2 with a 5.79 earned-run average, he seemed agitated — at himself for his lack of command, at his bullpen's failure to hold leads, at Manager Mike Scioscia for pulling him too soon from his last start.
After many of his pitches in a 7-4 loss to Houston on April 6, Weaver jerked his head toward the right-field corner in disgust. His body language seemed as out of whack as his ball-strike ratio in last Saturday's no-decision against the New York Mets, when only 50 of his 99 pitches were strikes.
There was speculation that Weaver, who had periodic bouts with tendinitis from 2011 to 2013, was hurt, but thanks to intensive work with a physical therapist who has helped break down the scar tissue in his shoulder, his arm feels better now than it has in years.
There were the usual concerns about his lack of velocity, but Weaver's fastball has sat in the 85- to 87-mph range this season, only a tick off from 2012, when he went 20-5 with a 2.81 ERA.
"I think his timing was a little off," pitching coach Mike Butcher said. "He worked some kinks out this winter — he's a lot more flexible than he was in the past — and he's getting stronger with his legs. Now he's trying to get all those things moving together, and part of that is timing.
"But we had a good bullpen session the other day, and he's getting into sync. He's definitely moving in the right direction, and we want him to keep moving in the right direction so he feels good about himself."
Weaver, who sat out seven weeks of the 2013 season because of a broken left elbow, said his body tightened up "a little earlier than anticipated" on a chilly 55-degree evening.
But a four-run fourth inning, which featured Mike Trout's two-run double and Kendrick's two-run homer, plus Pujols' sixth-inning homer, helped give the Angels an 11-1 lead.
"The boys came out and scored some early runs, which was awesome," Weaver said. "I was able to settle in. I felt like I threw the ball fairly well. The changeup was good. I was able to locate to both sides of the plate. … Hopefully, I'll build off this one, get that winning mentality back and go out and throw the ball well."
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