Angels get A’s for effort in 4-0 victory
Oakland center fielder Coco Crisp risked serious injury when he crashed into the wall in a gallant effort to rob Angels catcher Chris Iannetta of a two-run home run in the fifth inning Friday night.
Angels left fielder Josh Hamilton hurled his body into foul territory to make a superb diving catch of Alberto Callaspo’s fifth-inning popup with two on, to which center fielder Mike Trout responded: “That’s what I’m talking about, baby!”
Trout raced into the left-center-field gap and caught Stephen Vogt’s drive before slamming into the wall to save a run in the fourth. And Angels ace Jered Weaver pumped his fist violently and screamed an obscenity into the air after getting Josh Reddick to fly to left with the bases loaded to end the sixth.
What the Angels-Athletics rivalry might lack in name-brand recognition or a decades-old history of bitterness, it is making up for in on-field intensity.
Emotions ran high again Friday night, as Weaver gave up three hits in seven shutout innings to lead the Angels to a 4-0 victory before an energized crowd of 41,177 in Angel Stadium.
Weaver’s second win over the A’s in six days, and the team’s second straight win in a critical four-game series, helped the Angels open a three-game lead over the A’s in the American League West. The Angels also beat Jon Lester, Oakland’s big July 31 trade-deadline acquisition from Boston, Friday night.
“I don’t know if it speaks to a rivalry or a pennant race; I think it really reflects on how hard these guys are playing,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said of the spirited play on the field.
“That’s a big reason why our two clubs are battling it out and having good seasons. They have a bunch of gamers over there, and we do in our clubhouse too, and you’re getting a chance to see it in this series.”
Weaver (15-7) is the epitome of a gamer, a veteran right-hander who beats opponents with guts and guile more than pure stuff, and with flame-throwing right-hander Garrett Richards out because of a season-ending left knee injury, Weaver is the undisputed leader of the pitching staff.
“He showed why he’s so good tonight,” Scioscia said. “He was able to change speeds, make pitches, get back in counts. He pitched his heart out.”
The Angels have been getting superb starts from Weaver, Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago, and C.J. Wilson has won or given the team a chance to win each of his last four starts. But the final rotation spot, one vacated by Richards, has become a problem.
Wade LeBlanc gave up six runs in 31/3 innings Monday night and was designated for assignment Tuesday. Richards’ spot comes up again Saturday night, and the Angels didn’t name a starter — reliever Cory Rasmus — until late Friday night.
Richards, who visited the clubhouse Friday for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon, admitted it’s tougher watching games on the days he would have been pitching.
“It’s rough — it’s usually the day I work,” Richards said. “It’s a little frustrating to see us struggle to fill that void, but we have great guys on this pitching staff. We can piece it together. I think we’ll be OK.”
Richards said he knew the moment he fell awkwardly to the ground after catching a spike near first base in Fenway Park that his season was over.
“After I heard the pop and the crunching, I knew something wasn’t right,” Richards said. “I didn’t know what it was. Initially, I felt like I had a bone sticking out of my body. That wasn’t the case, obviously, but it kind of scared me.”
The first few days after surgery were tough for Richards, whose breakout season — he went 13-4 with a 2.61 earned-run average and 164 strikeouts in 26 starts — is a primary reason the Angels are well-positioned to end their four-year playoff drought.
But Richards, on crutches and wearing a knee brace, has come to grips with his injury and the six- to nine-month rehabilitation process ahead of him.
“You go from a routine of going to the park every day to being stuck on the couch,” Richards said. “I went through the why-me phase. You kind of get past that. Now it’s time to move forward, address this, and get back on the field.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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