Considering the way he has pitched there in 2009, Jered Weaver should consider making a plea for the All-Star game to be played at Angel Stadium a year early.
Continuing his season-long mastery of opponents at home, Weaver pitched a five-hit shutout against the San Diego Padres on Sunday to lead the Angels to a 6-0 victory that completed a three-game sweep.
Weaver’s first career shutout was a 119-pitch effort that included some late efficiency. This was the dugout exchange between the right-hander and Manager Mike Scioscia prior to the ninth inning after Weaver had thrown 113 pitches:
Scioscia: “Can you get it done in eight pitches?”
Weaver: “Yeah, let me go back out there and see if I can.”
Leading off the ninth was cleanup hitter Adrian Gonzalez, who had three of the Padres’ hits. Gonzalez flied out to left field on Weaver’s fourth pitch, leaving Weaver little wiggle room to stay in the game.
But Weaver (7-2) got Cliff Floyd to fly out to center field on the first pitch and then retired Kevin Kouzmanoff on a first-pitch pop-out to second baseman Maicer Izturis in shallow right field, prompting Weaver to triumphantly thrust both arms into the air.
“It only took me 3 1/2 years,” Weaver said of his first shutout. "[John] Lackey was messing with me, saying, ‘It’s about time.’ ”
The Padres had plenty of scoring opportunities but were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Gonzalez and Will Venable each led off an inning with a double, but neither advanced to third base.
Weaver’s statistics at Angel Stadium this season are spectacular: He’s 5-0 with a 1.01 earned-run average, and opponents are batting only .160 against him.
“It’s a big park, and it plays well into my game,” said Weaver, who struck out five and walked one Sunday.
“You just want to go out there and throw strikes and let them put it in play. . . . I love this field. I think it’s one of the best in the league.”
Juan Rivera hit a pair of solo home runs for the Angels, who have scored 26 runs and have 39 hits -- 20 for extra bases -- in the three games since Scioscia delivered a tongue-lashing Thursday after an 11-1 loss to Tampa Bay. The Angels have hit nine homers in their last three games -- as many as they had hit in their previous 14 games.
“We’re playing better,” said Scioscia, whose team pulled 2 1/2 games behind Texas in the American League West.
“I don’t know if it coincides with any message we talked about the other day, but we’re seeing good at-bats, we’re seeing guys produce.”
Few have been as productive as Weaver, who is making a strong push for All-Star consideration. His 2.08 ERA is the second-lowest in the AL and he has given up one run or fewer in six of his last eight starts.
“You just try to go out there and repeat what you’ve been doing, and fortunately I’ve been able to do that,” Weaver said.
“I’m locating pitches and going out there with the same mentality. It doesn’t matter who I’m facing. It’s been a good ride so far.”
Does Weaver think he’s on the brink of his first All-Star appearance?
“If it happens, it happens,” he said. “If not, I’ll enjoy the break. It’s not something I’m really thinking about right now.”