ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Jered Weaver had gone more than more than four full seasons without issuing an intentional walk in a regular-season game. That streak ended Friday night, when he purposely passed Yunel Escobar with a a runner at second and two out in the seventh inning.
Escobar had hit safely his two previous times up against the Los Angeles Angels’ ace, singling in the third inning and hitting a solo homer in the fifth for Tampa Bay’s first run in a 3-0 victory over the Halos. It made the Rays’ shortstop 6 for 10 lifetime against the three-time All-Star. So under the circumstances, discretion was the better part of valor on this occasion.
“I was a little nervous, to tell you the truth,” Weaver said. “I haven’t done it in a while, but it is what it is. Butch (pitching coach Mike Butcher) came out and said: `We’re going to walk him.’ That’s their decision, and it ended up working out all right.
“We had that same instance against Tampa last year, where (Wil) Myers hit that home run to put them up 2-0. I told Butch: `if you guys have a feeling and want to go about it a different way than I did, let me know.’ It was good that he came out said: `We’re going to walk him.’ There wasn’t anything to talk about. I went after the next guy and was able to get him to ground out.”
The last time Weaver intentionally walked a batter was Sept. 4, 2009 at Kansas City, when he gave a free one to Mark Teahen.
“Part of it is, he’s a neutral kind of pitcher: He’s equally effective against righties and lefties. So that makes him unique,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “But if you really observe him, I’m sure and I would bet that he’s pitched around certain guys to get to the next guy, based on his own experiences.”
Weaver (4-3) allowed two runs and three hits over seven innings with five strikeouts and three walks. He was 4-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his previous five starts, including a 9-3 decision last Sunday in which he asked to be taken out of a game for the first time in his nine-year career because of a problem with his command – after throwing 102 pitches in 6 1-3 innings and getting staked to a 7-1 lead.
Chris Archer (3-2) retired his first two batters in the fifth before walking John McDonald, Erick Aybar and Mike Trout – whose walkoff three-run homer against Brad Boxberger in the ninth inning Thursday gave the Angels a 6-5 win. But Albert Pujols grounded to third for a force on Aybar, making the two-time NL MVP 0 for 6 this season in bases-loaded situations and 3 for 22 since signing a 10-year, $240 million contract with the club in December 2011.
“I was just trying to get him out, whatever it took,” Archer said. “We have super advanced scouting reports, and my stuff was good, so I tried to use a combination of both. I threw him a slider down in the strike zone and he rolled over on it.”
Jake McGee, who has stranded all 13 baserunners he’s inherited, started the seventh inning fresh after Juan Carlos Oviedo got the last out in the sixth. McGee gave up a single by Aybar and a walk to Trout, his third of the game. But Pujols, who stranded six runners on the night, flied out to right field.
“I’m struggling right now,” Pujols said. “I’m putting good swings on the ball, but there’s nothing going my way. But I’ve been here before, so it’s nothing I’m going to panic about. I’m seeing the ball good and I’m having great at-bats.”
Archer allowed two hits over 5 2-3 innings and won for the first time in his last five starts, striking out five and walking five. The right-hander came in with a 6.97 ERA since his 16-1 victory over the Yankees on April 19 at St. Petersburg.
Archer matched zeros with Weaver through the first four innings, and each team had one hit – the Angels a two-out single by Pujols in the first, and the Rays a one-out single by Escobar in the third. Efren Navarro’s two-out single in the sixth was the only other hit Archer allowed.
Escobar drove an 0-2 pitch to left-center for his third homer of the season. It was only the third allowed by Weaver in seven starts since April 6 at Houston when the Astros went deep four times against him in 7-4 win.
Joel Peralta pitched a scoreless eighth and Grant Balfour pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save, one night after giving up two walks and an RBI single and failing to record an out in the ninth after inheriting a three-run lead.
NOTES: After the game, Rays CF Desmond Jennings was placed on the bereavement list. OF Kevin Kiermaier, who has played only one game in the big leagues, was recalled from Triple-A Durham. … Angels rookie INF Luis Jimenez beat David Price in the Halos’ 40th annual cow-milking contest.