Weaver values opportunity, eyes potential Game 4
ANAHEIM -- For Jered Weaver, everything in the last five years had built up to Thursday night.
Weaver waited five years to pitch again in a postseason game, weathering front-office changes, big-name acquisitions and struggles under high expectations. He was an All-Star and an ace, the steady hand in the revolving door of the Angels' rotation. Weaver got his opportunity on Thursday, starting Game 1 of the American League Division Series against Kansas City. He didn't miss it.
Weaver gave up just two runs on three hits in seven innings, exiting before the Angels dropped a 3-2 contest in 11 innings. He kept the Angels in the game, yielding a run in the third and a run in the fifth but retired the final nine Royals he faced.
"He was great," catcher Chris Iannetta said. "There were a couple of pitches that we look back on and maybe he missed his spot by a little bit, but he threw 100 pitches and only had one or two mistakes. That's a pretty good night."
For the Angels to advance, though, they'll need another strong start from Weaver, who will start a potential Game 4 on Monday in Kansas City on three days of rest. Weaver pitched Thursday on five days of rest, and his last two starts of the regular season came on extended rest.
The 31-year-old Weaver hasn't pitched on three days of rest since 2011, when he did it twice down the stretch. The right-hander owned a 6.75 ERA and 1.583 WHIP while opponents posted a 1.004 OPS against him in those two starts, the only ones in his career on short rest.
"I'm one of those guys that wants to take the ball whenever they want to give it to me," Weaver said. "I've had some experience, not in the postseason, but during the regular season coming back on short rest. I know what it takes to do the little things as far as getting your body prepared for that.
"Hopefully, we get to that Game 4 and I'm looking forward to taking the ball whenever they are willing to give it to me."
When he had the ball on Thursday night, Weaver made his pitches, changing speeds and locating his pitches, handcuffing a Kansas City offense that had just scored nine runs on Tuesday. Weaver said he only would take back one pitch: a third-inning double to left field by Alcides Escobar that gave the Royals a 1-0 lead.
"For the most part, felt like I could've done some things a little better but gave us a chance to win," Weaver said. "We just didn't get it done tonight."
Five years was the time between playoff starts for Weaver, but it was also the last time the Angels saw Weaver dominate like he did to finish the regular season. His velocity trended up, his stuff looked crisper and the Angels' ace showed why he was their go-to option.
Weaver turned back the clock again on Thursday, and the Angels may need him to do it again on Monday in Kansas City.