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Weaver first rookie to go 7-0 since 1981


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Angels rookie Weaver now 7-0

Righty is first since Valenzuela in 1981 to win first seven

 

KANSAS CITY -- For those who believe Jered Weaver might go through his career undefeated, Angels pitching coach Bud Black wants to squelch that right now.

 

"I would expect not," Black said. "He might lose a game 1-to-nothing."

 

Weaver remained perfect on Sunday with a 3-1 victory over the Royals, allowing one run on three hits in 6 2/3 innings. He has won his first seven Major League starts, becoming the first pitcher to do that since Fernando Valenzuela won his initial eight starts in 1981 for the Dodgers.

 

Catching Valenzuela in 1981 was one Mike Scioscia, the Angels manager.

 

"I think some situations are similar," Scioscia said. "Fernando started the season. He didn't come up midway through [like Weaver]. A lot of the dynamics are similar. There's a big veteran influence on this team that has high expectations and there are a lot of kids trying to break their way into the lineup, as there was in 1981.

 

"Fernando was a big part of our rotation even though he hadn't started a Major League game. We knew the talent he had. The expectations were to win. Fernando kept going out pitching his game and had success. I think Jered is doing the same thing. On the field and in the clubhouse what the expectations were for that club (in 1981), I think a lot of things are similar."

 

Weaver, who has a 1.15 ERA, is not getting caught up with his history-making journey to begin his career.

 

"I'm not worried about any records," said Weaver, who was born one year after Valenzuela's 1981 start. "It still hasn't kicked in. I don't get hyped up. All it is is just one more tier in the bleachers.

 

"I've been really good about letting things roll off my shoulder and not getting really all hyped up about all that type of stuff, but just going out there and worrying about one thing and one thing only and that is making pitches and trying to keep my team in the game to have a chance to win."

 

Weaver's next start will be Saturday at Boston as he tries to duplicate Valenzuela's 1981 feat.

 

"What I was impressed with today was the way Jered pitched around the fact he didn't have command of his breaking ball early," Scioscia said. "He wasn't missing by much, but he was able to get his fastball in good spots. He threw some good breaking balls when he had to.

 

"But he pitched without his best stuff today and I think that's a great sign when a guy can pitch as well as he did."

 

Weaver acknowledged his breaking ball was askew in the early innings.

 

"It is obviously a confidence booster to be able to get people out when I don't have my best stuff," Weaver said.

 

Weaver was making his first start since July 8 as the Angels opted to skip him in the rotation because of tendinitis in his right biceps.

 

"It was a just a matter of not being able to throw for two weeks," Weaver said of his breaking ball being off target. "Obviously, I couldn't find it early and you try to throw some more in pre-inning warmups. It started to come around in later innings. It is something I need to clean up in the bullpen this week."

 

Weaver said he felt "maybe a little bit [of pain] in that last inning, but it's not nearly what it was."

 

Weaver was pulled after 101 pitches, the second highest number he has thrown in his seven Major League starts. He already has thrown 124 innings this season -- 47 with the Angels and 77 in the Pacific Coast League.

 

"The only thing we want to monitor very closely is where his innings are, how his stuff looks, and how is he holding up?" Scioscia said. "Because this is going to be the longest season he's had up to this point. We want him to be a part of what we hope obviously is a pennant race."

 

Weaver allowed only an infield single to Angel Berroa in the first five innings. The only run the Royals would get came in the sixth when Mark Teahen's two-out double scored Doug Mientkiewicz, who singled to right for the first clean hit off the 23-year-old right-hander.

 

The Angels scored a run in the second inning off Brandon Duckworth (1-4), who took the loss. With two out, Duckworth hit Juan Rivera with a pitch and Mike Napoli walked. Adam Kennedy, who extended his hitting streak to nine games, singled to center, scoring Rivera.

 

The Angels stretched their lead to 3-0 in the fourth. Rivera doubled and Duckworth walked Napoli and Kennedy to load the bases. Robb Quinlan, who entered the game hitting .208 against right-handers, stroked a ground-ball single to right to drive in Rivera and Napoli. Quinlan has 15 RBIs in his past 13 games.

 

"I've struggled with righties the last two years," Quinlan said. "It's nice to get a hit, especially off a right-hander, and I'm glad to help the team out."

 

That would prove to be enough for Weaver and the Angels' bullpen. Scot Shields worked a scoreless eighth, allowing one single, and Francisco Rodriguez finished it with a flawless ninth, striking out the final two Royals to earn his 25th save in 27 opportunities.

 

The Angels won the final two games of the four-game series to gain a split. The Angels, who moved two games above .500, improved to 15-4 in July.

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