Jered Weaver sharp, Kevin Jepsen shaky in Angels victory
Jered Weaver’s spark plugs, air filter and brake fluid look fine. The right-hander looked sharp in his final tuneup for the playoffs Friday night, throwing five shutout innings with five strikeouts and no walks in the Angels’ 5-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
But the check-engine light came on for setup man Kevin Jepsen, who suffered his second shaky outing in seven days, giving up singles to three of the four batters he faced and two runs in the ninth inning.
“I feel like I’m out there trying to work on things instead of doing what I normally do, which is go after guys and let it all hang out,” Jepsen said. “My velocity is fine, my slider is good, and I’m throwing strikes. I’m just lacking that go-after-them mentality.”
Jepsen, who could play a vital role in the American League division series against the Boston Red Sox, gave up four runs and three hits to Oakland on Sept. 26 in Anaheim but threw hitless innings in his last two outings.
But after Friday night’s rocky outing, the right-hander will have one more appearance Sunday to straighten himself out.
Closer Brian Fuentes replaced Jepsen and, after giving up a run-scoring single to Daric Barton, retired Mark Ellis and Nomar Garciaparra for his major-league-leading 47th save.
Weaver, expected to start Game 2 of the division series, closed the season with a 16-8 record and 3.75 earned-run average, throwing a career-high 211 innings.
Bobby Abreu led off the eighth inning Friday night with a single and stole second, making him the second player in Angels history to drive in 100 runs and steal 30 bases in the same season. Bobby Bonds had 115 RBIs and 41 stolen bases in 1977.
Abreu also played in his 150th game Friday to become only the fifth player in major league history to play at least 150 games in 12 consecutive seasons.
The others were Willie Mays (13 seasons from 1954-66), Billy Williams (12 seasons from 1962-73), Pete Rose (12 seasons from 1969-80) and Cal Ripken Jr. (12 seasons from 1982-93).
Juan Rivera hit his 25th home run of the season, a solo shot in the fourth inning, and Mike Napoli (double), Torii Hunter (single) and Gary Matthews Jr. (single) drove in runs for the Angels.
The Angels also scored on a fluke double steal in the second when Napoli, after getting caught too far off second base, was caught in a rundown.
Kendry Morales, who was on third, broke for home and tip-toed over the tag of catcher Kurt Suzuki to score.
As expected, Manager Mike Scioscia said the Angels will go with a 10-man pitching staff against the Red Sox.
The rotation will consist of John Lackey, Weaver, Scott Kazmir and Joe Saunders, with Ervin Santana going to the bullpen.
The bullpen will also feature Fuentes, Jepsen, Darren Oliver and Jason Bulger and, most likely, Matt Palmer. Santana could bolster an area some consider a weakness: middle relief.
“He has the possibility of being versatile, whether he pitches early in a game, in the middle or in extra innings,” Scioscia said. “He’s done it before. We’ll see.”
On the mend
Second baseman Howie Kendrick, who is undergoing treatment for a staph-like infection below his right knee, and shortstop Erick Aybar, who has a bruise on the back of his right hand, are expected to return to the lineup today.
Kendrick, who has received several injections and is on antibiotics, hit in the cages Thursday and went through a regular pregame routine and batting practice Friday.
“It’s getting better,” Kendrick said. “I’ve been feeling good. It’s just a matter of getting into a game.”
Aybar, injured when he was hit by a pitch Wednesday night, missed his second straight game, but he has been throwing and hitting. He said he could have played Friday night if he needed to.
The Angels this season joined the 2007 Detroit Tigers as the only teams since the 1930 St. Louis Cardinals to have 10 players with at least 50 runs batted in. They are Morales (107), Abreu (102), Hunter (88), Rivera (87), Maicer Izturis (65), Kendrick (61), Aybar (58), Napoli (54), Chone Figgins (54) and Vladimir Guerrero (50).