ANAHEIM, Calif. – Jered Weaver has one more start in the way before the real fun begins, and he’s been waiting almost five years to get another chance for a World Series ring.
In the meantime, Weaver earned his AL-leading 18th victory when the AL West champion Los Angeles Angels beat the Texas Rangers 8-5 on Saturday night.
“It’s the time of the year where everybody wants to extend their season, and we’re lucky enough to be able to be a part of that,” Weaver said. “It’s exciting for sure, but you try not to look too far ahead because we’ve still got some games to play.
“I know from previous playoffs that it’s all about the team with the momentum. So we can’t take these games for granted right now. We’ve still got to go out there and produce and get some momentum going.”
Weaver is 11-2 in his last 18 starts and will make one more regular-season appearance before starting Game 1 of the AL division series next Thursday in his first post-season start since Game 3 of the 2009 ALCS.
“I think that having some post-season experience is a plus,” he said. “It’s obviously been a long time for me, but I’m sure I’ll feel like I’m 23 because of all the adrenaline and stuff. You just try to stay within yourself as much as possible and try to keep your team in the game — just like you do during the season — and hopefully the offence takes care of the rest.”
Albert Pujols reached the 100-RBI mark with a two-run homer and Mike Trout also hit a two-run shot, helping the Angels maintain their 2 1/2 game lead over Baltimore in the race for the best record in the majors.
David Freese added a three-run homer in support of Weaver (18-8), who was charged with three runs and five hits in seven-plus innings. Huston Street pitched a perfect ninth for his career-high 39th save and 15th with the Angels .
Colby Lewis (10-14) gave up eight runs — seven earned — and nine hits in five innings. The Rangers’ season-best seven-game winning streak came to a resounding end despite Adrian Beltre’s three doubles, which equaled a career high.
Lewis is 0-4 with a whopping 11.51 ERA in his last four starts against the Angels .
“I expected to perform a lot better than I did tonight — plain and simple,” he said.
Trout made it 3-0 in the third with his 35th homer, after shortstop Elvis Andrus dropped Kole Calhoun’s popup in short centre field for his 18th error. The two RBIs increased Trout’s career-high total to 109, two behind major league leader Adrian Gonzalez .
In a span of just five pitches in the fifth, the Angels plated five more runs. Pujols drove Lewis’ 1-2 delivery off the rock pile in left-centre for his 519th homer, putting him within two of tying Ted Williams , Willie McCovey and newly inducted Hall of Famer Frank Thomas for 18th place on the career list.
“I don’t play for numbers, guys,” Pujols said. “My goal is to help this organization win. And a lot of guys have been getting on base in front of me and giving me the opportunity to drive them in.”
Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar followed Pujols homer with singles, and Freese capped the five-run rally with his 10th homer, one more than he had last season in 138 games with St. Louis . The 2011 World Series MVP has 13 RBIs in his last 12 games.
Garrett Richards was named the winner of the Nick Adenhart Award as the Angels’ top pitcher. He was 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 26 starts before he was shelved by a season-ending knee injury last month.
If Beltre doesn’t hit at least two home runs in Texas’ final eight games, it would be the first time since 1980 that the Rangers went an entire non-strike season without anyone on the roster hitting at least 20. Al Oliver and Richie Zisk led the way that year with 19 each.
Angels : Injured RF Josh Hamilton won’t play Sunday, marking the first time he’ll go an entire season without a home run in his home ballpark. All 10 have come on the road. … RHP Matt Shoemaker’s status remains in doubt as to whether he’ll make one more start in preparation for the playoffs. He has missed one turn with a mild left oblique strain, and has yet to throw off a mound.
Rangers : Nick Tepesch (5-10, 4.47 ERA) is 3-10 with a 4.72 ERA over his last 17 starts, including a pair of losses to the Angels .
Angels : Sunday is the team’s final home game of the regular season. Cory Rasmus (3-1, 2.57 ERA) makes his fifth big league start — all in place of Richards.