NCAA Football

Jered Weaver hits a ‘speed bump’ and can’t recover in Angels’ 8-5 loss to Brewers

May 2, 2016

Jered Weaver stared at Clint Fagan before he raised his glove to receive the ball back from his catcher.

Weaver had spotted a sinker exactly where desired, on the outermost corner of the plate to Milwaukee’s Aaron Hill, and Fagan, Monday’s home-plate umpire, called it a ball.

The choice was the turning point in the Angels‘ 8-5 loss to the Brewers at Miller Park. Before it, Weaver could do no wrong, even while topping out at 84 mph with his fastball. After it, he did little right.

“I hit a speed bump,” Weaver said, “and I couldn’t slow down.”

Two pitches after the bump, Weaver walked Hill and muttered to himself. Three pitches later, a man named Yadiel Rivera laced a ball to left field, a few feet closer than what Angels left fielder Rafael Ortega could reach. But Ortega attempted to reach it anyway and missed the ball entirely. It traveled all the way to the wall, and Rivera ran to third.

Four pitches after that, Brewers pitcher Jimmy Nelson squared to bunt for a squeeze before pulling back his bat and instead squaring a ball up to right for a run-scoring single. Weaver had thrown a get-me-over fastball in a 2-and-1 count. He flicked his tongue and held out his glove.

And then, after a lineout, a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk, Jonathan Lucroy lined a slider for a double. Weaver watched from the mound as two runs scored, opting not to back up a close play at the plate.

The 33-year-old right-hander had experienced no trouble at all through the first three innings. In the fourth, after Ryan Braun singled for the second time, Weaver threw over to first before he threw a pitch to Lucroy, and picked Braun off. That would save him a run, as Lucroy and Chris Carter both singled to follow the pickoff.

Leading off the sixth, he allowed three consecutive singles sans a pickoff, bringing out Manager Mike Scioscia to remove him. Charged with seven runs, he retired four of the final 15 batters he faced and raised his 2016 earned-run average to 5.40.

Scioscia said Weaver “didn’t melt” because of the missed call, but the effects were visible and tangible: Two of the runs were scored with two outs.

“I thought we should’ve got that pitch,” said Geovany Soto, the Angels’ catcher. “Sometimes, you gotta take it like a man, I guess.”

The game began with hope for the Angels. Yunel Escobar slapped Nelson’s first pitch into the outfield for a double. Ortega laid down a sacrifice bunt and Mike Trout rapped a single to left. In two minutes, they had their first run.

It would be 100 minutes before they had another hit. Eventually, in the sixth, Trout broke the streak when he muscled a Nelson slider 410 feet to straightaway center field for his sixth home run of 2016.

The Angels produced one more hit in that inning, when Kole Calhoun bunted against the shift, and then four more in the eighth, when Trout singled and Albert Pujols doubled in succession. After Calhoun popped out, C.J. Cron singled to left, scoring Pujols after a lengthy crew-chief review. Lucroy had tagged Pujols out but blocked the plate to do so.

In the ninth, the Angels brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate in Ji-Man Choi, after Trout’s fourth hit, two more singles and a walk. In his second career pinch-hitting opportunity, Choi grounded out to secure the defeat.

As his parents, sister, niece and nephew watched from the stands, Trout notched his first-four hit game since Aug. 30, 2015.

In relief of Weaver, young right-hander Cam Bedrosian struck out five men in 1 2/3 innings, making him the first Angel in 21 years to record five or more outs all via strikeout. Weaver had three strikeouts in his five-plus innings, bringing his 2016 total to 14 in five starts.

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