Jered Weaver’s Top Five Games

At the end of the 2016 season, Jered Weaver’s contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will expire, and it could very well mean the end of Weaver’s illustrious career.  He has provided Angel fans with a decade full of highlights and is clearly one of the best pitchers the franchise has ever had.  I’m hoping that he he can find the magic again and can turn in one last, great performance sometime this season, but if not, the following will remain as the top five pitching performances, per Bill James’ Game Score metric, ever turned in by the six-foot-seven, right-handed Dirtbag from Long Beach State:

Number Five

May 7, 2009 versus the Toronto Blue Jays at the Big A.  Game Score of 85.

Both clubs were in first place in their respective divisions, but the Blue Jays were red hot, riding a 20-10 record.  Jered Weaver went the distance, however, giving up just one run (a lead off home run in the fourth inning by second baseman Aaron Hill) to give the Angels a 6-1 victory.  Weaver gave up just three hits in this contest, and he did not issue a single walk.  He had eight strikeouts and mixed his pinpoint fastballs, deceptive change ups, and fall-off-the-table curveballs to induce a ton of weak contact and 21 looking strikes.

Manager Mike Scioscia was a fan.  “We might not have seen a team as hot as they’ve been in the last 10 years in this league. These guys are scorching the ball,” he said after the game, “and for Jered to shut them down, that’s a terrific ballgame.”

It was the first complete game of Weaver’s career, and in his throwback 1980 uniform the team was wearing that night, he told the reporters that after he leaves the stadium, “I’ll go celebrate with my parents.”

Number Four

July 24, 2013 versus the Minnesota Twins at the Big A.  Game Score of 86.

At the end of the eighth inning, Weaver walked off the mound to the cheers of the thousands of appreciative Halo fans after he had just struck out shortstop Pedro Florimon to end the inning.  The last pitch was the 114th of the night for Weaver, and it was to be his last.  The Angels were clinging on to a narrow 1-0 lead, thanks to Weaver’s eight innings of work in which he gave up just two singles and a walk against nine strikeouts.  His stuff was so electric that night, that he got 21 swings-and-misses from the various Twin batters.

Weaver had to watch from the dugout, though, as Ernesto Frieri walked a tightrope to get the Angels the win.  He walked his first batter, plunked his second, got a heads up double play when he let a blooper by the mound fall to the ground, walked the next batter to put runners on the corners, and then finally got a strike out to end the game.

Number Three

May 28, 2011 versus the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.  Game Score of 88.

Weaver went nine innings in this game, but he was still the victim of some shaky relief pitching.  He threw a career high 128 pitches and had two of his seven strikeouts in the ninth inning, but when he walked off the hill in the bottom of the frame, the game was scoreless and about to head into extra innings.  Weaver allowed only two singles and two walks over the nine innings he pitched.  He even picked off one of the four base runners he allowed, but the Angel offense could only muster one hit, a Peter Bourjos double in the eighth, in support of Weaver’s effort

After throwing darts and dropping in curveballs for nine innings, Weaver had to bite his tongue as he watched the tenth from the dugout as Hisanori Takahashi and Kevin Jepsen combined to give up four consecutive one-out singles, the fourth one being a walk-off RBI from the bat of third baseman Danny Valencia.

Number Two

August 6, 2012 versus the Oakland A’s at the O.Co Coliseum.  Game Score of 88.

This game sits higher in the rankings even though it also has a score of 88 because of the game’s importance.  The Angels were a half-game behind the pesky A’s for the second wildcard spot, so they needed every win against the A’s for the rest of the season that they could get.  Weaver made sure the Angels would get one on this day.  He pitched a complete-game shutout (the Angels won 4-0), giving up just four hits and no walks while striking out nine batters.  Three of the four A’s hits were singles, and the fourth was a double by third baseman Brandon Inge.

After the game, the Angels jumped ahead of the A’s in the wildcard standings, and the win also improved Weaver’s record to 15-1, making him the first pitcher since Don Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955 to hit that mark in his first sixteen decisions.  The scoreless outing also lowered Weaver’s ERA to 2.13, which led the American League.

Number One

May 2, 2012 versus the Minnesota Twins at the Big A.  Game Score of 95.

The gem of his career, a no-hitter at home in front of his fans, in a game that was attended by his parents and his wife.  It took him 121 pitches to get the job done, a piece of handiwork that often induced the Twin batters to make either weak contact or no contact at all.  He had ten swing-and-misses and 25 pitches that were umpire-called strikes that the batters didn’t even take a swing on.  Weaver was in such command during this outing that he had a perfect game going into the seventh inning, but left fielder Josh Willingham provided the only blemish of the night when he worked a two-out walk.

Weaver did have a couple of scares in the ninth inning, however, when the first batter, Jamey Carroll, sent left fielder Vernon Wells to the warning track to catch a dangerous fly ball, and then two batters later, Alexi Casilla sent right fielder Torii Hunter sprinting towards the outfield wall to make the final catch of the game.

Catcher Chris Iannetta ran out to the mound and was the first teammate to congratulate Weaver.  Soon there was a joyful mob reveling in  the center of the infield that was cheered on by the fans who had just witnessed the first Angel no-hitter thrown at the Big A since Nolan Ryan last did it in 1975.

“It’s so surreal to do this with my family, my wife and some friends here,” said Weaver in the clubhouse after the game, his T-shirt soaked in celebratory beer and champagne. “A lot of things have to go your way to throw a no-hitter. You never know what can happen. There can be a bloop hit. But the outfielders ran some balls down, Trumbo made a nice play, and Iannetta put down the right fingers. It still hasn’t kicked in!”

Did you know?  Jered Weaver (6 IP) and Jose Arredondo (2 IP) teamed up to throw a combined no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 28, 2008, and the Angels lost the game!

Did you know (part two)?  Huston Street and a 20-year-old Jered Weaver were teammates on the US national team that won the silver medal in the 2003 Pan American Games.  Weaver went 4-1, had a streak of 45 scoreless innings and was tabbed to start the gold medal game against Cuba (the US lost a close game, 3-1).