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Shoemaker showing signs of 2014 form

HOUSTON -- Matt Shoemaker continued his dominance amid the Angels' 3-0 walk-off loss to the Astros on Thursday night, pitching seven scoreless innings to put his ERA at 2.01 since June 26.

Shoemaker still looks like the odd man out in the rotation once Jered Weaver returns, a development that could happen as early as the beginning of next week. But Shoemaker continues to say it isn't weighing on his mind, nor is he motivated by it -- even though the numbers suggest otherwise.

"As soon as he's ready, we want him back more than anybody," Shoemaker said of Weaver. "We know what he can do on the field, and that can really help us."

Shoemaker is the first Angels pitcher with back-to-back scoreless starts of at least six innings since he did it himself three straight times at the end of August 2014. That was around the time when the 28-year-old right-hander really began to turn heads, ultimately finishing second in American League Rookie of the Year Award voting.

He feels like he's back to being that guy.

"Definitely," Shoemaker said. "You want to get in a groove and feel your body and go execute pitches. That's the biggest thing -- executing pitches and getting outs."

Shoemaker gave up just three hits, walked one and struck out seven in Thursday's series finale, matching Scott Kazmir -- 7 2/3 scoreless innings -- before Jason Castro gave the Astros a sweep with a ninth-inning three-run homer off Fernando Salas.

In less than six weeks, Shoemaker's ERA has dropped from 5.20 to 4.24. His fastball has more life, he's doing a better job of locating on the lower half of the strike zone, and he's starting to resemble the 16-game winner from last season.

Perfect timing.

"I think he's found some stuff," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's much closer to what we saw last year than he was at the beginning of the season."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast.
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