Just two bad pitches for Weaver
Young righty allowed back-to-back homers in fourth inning
ANAHEIM -- After the Angels dropped Game 3 of the American League Division Series, 9-1, to the Red Sox on Sunday at Angel Stadium, starting pitcher Jered Weaver stood tall in front of his locker after delivering a gutsy performance in his first career postseason start.
"There's nothing to hang our heads about. We made the playoffs and we had the best home record in baseball," said Weaver, who went five-plus innings, allowing two runs on just four hits while striking out five. "It was awesome being able to pitch in my first playoff game at home with the hometown crowd and my friends and family. It was fun. I felt the excitement and the enthusiasm of the crowd."
Weaver, who was saddled with the loss, threw 95 pitches in the game, but it was just two pitches that determined the outcome of his first playoff outing. Two pitches, an 0-1 fastball and a 3-2 slider, were the difference between a gem and a loss.
The 25-year-old Weaver was solid on an afternoon when the Angels' offense wasn't. In a game that featured two monster homers by David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, the righty stood his ground and walked off the field after firing bullets for five innings with his head held high.
Weaver fed off the 45,262 fans in attendance, firing 94 mph fastballs in the first inning, striking out Kevin Youklis and Ramirez to finish a 1-2-3 frame. In the second, after allowing a walk and a double to begin the inning, Weaver stared in at catcher Mike Napoli and stifled the rally like a seasoned vet.
With Ramirez at third and Mike Lowell at second with no outs, he got J.D. Drew to hit a soft dribbler back to the mound before striking out Jason Varitek on a slider and Coco Crisp on a curve. Weaver looked to the sky and let out a sigh of relief as he walked off the mound with the game still scoreless.
Weaver took the mound in the third and produced a 12-pitch inning, getting two flyouts and a strikeout to keep his team right in the thick of things.
"When you play the Red Sox, you know you're going to have to battle against them, and the key is to get ahead of them early," Weaver said. "I felt good, but obviously I made a lot of pitches. It's good lineup. What are you going to do?"
Weaver didn't make many mistakes, but in the playoffs against two of the premier sluggers in the American League, all it takes is two, as Weaver learned the hard way in the fourth inning on Sunday.
First it was Ortiz, who took an 0-1 fastball that was low and inside over the wall in right-center field. Then it was Ramirez, who blasted a 3-2 slider deep onto the green tarp in center field. The homers marked the fourth time that Red Sox hitters have gone back-to-back in the postseason, and the second time Ortiz and Ramirez have done it.
"I think some of the mistakes that Jered made, and there weren't many today, he made a couple of them in that inning to Ortiz," said manager Mike Scioscia. "I thought Jered did a terrific job out there, but the couple of mistakes he made, they didn't miss in that one inning."
Weaver, who compiled a 13-7 record with a 3.91 ERA in his first complete season in the Majors, didn't fold his deck of cards. Instead, he got out of the fourth and shut down the Sox in the fifth before being pulled in the sixth after allowing a leadoff walk to Ortiz.
"Like Scioscia said, there's nothing to hang our heads about," Weaver said. "It's a bummer we couldn't win one for the home crowd, but this experience was awesome."
Jayson Addcox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.