Weaver likely wraps up MLB strikeout title
Righty would be first Halos pitcher to take crown since Ryan
ARLINGTON -- When he caught the Rangers' Michael Young looking at a third strike leading off the fourth inning on Friday night, Jered Weaver in all likelihood wrapped up the 2010 Major League strikeout title.
This was strikeout No. 233 for Weaver, lifting him over Seattle's Felix Hernandez, at 232, and the Giants' Tim Lincecum, at 231. Both King Felix and The Freak are believed to have thrown their final pitches of the regular season.
Weaver finished with four strikeouts in seven innings in the Angels' 5-4 win in 11 innings.
Weaver, if it becomes official after Sunday's games, will be the first Angels pitcher to lead the Majors in strikeouts since the master himself, Nolan Ryan. The Express, the all-time K king, put away 341 hitters in 1977. Ryan now runs the Rangers, who displaced the Angels as American League West champions this season after a three-year run.
Weaver has maintained all season that he's not a strikeout pitcher per se, that he'd prefer to get outs early in counts to enable him to get deeper in games. But his stuff has been so consistently good, and overpowering at times, that the whiffs piled up. Weaver has reached double figures five times with a high of 12 in seven innings against Tampa Bay on May 12. He has produced 11 punchouts four times.
"I feel good about the innings I've pitched , keeping the team in games," Weaver said. "That's what I set out to do this season. The strikeouts have come, but it's not like I've been going for them. They've just happened."
Haren ready if Angels don't scrap final start
ARLINGTON -- A man who takes pride in delivering innings and never missing a start, Dan Haren hasn't gotten the word from manager Mike Scioscia about his projected start in Sunday's season finale against the playoff-bound Rangers at Rangers Ballpark.
If he retires two hitters, Haren will establish new personal season standards in starts (35) and innings pitched. His career high is 229 1/3 in 2009 with Arizona. This is his sixth consecutive season of producing 216 or more innings, making the big right-hander from Bishop Amat High School and Pepperdine University in Southern California a throwback to the days when starters willed their way deep into games.
"I had a good bullpen [Thursday] and I'm ready to go -- but I haven't heard if I'll be out there," said Haren, who has continued his remarkable run of durability with 229 innings while going 11-12 for the D-backs and Angels. His ERA has returned to a normal Haren level -- 2.86 -- in his 13 Angels starts after reaching 4.60 in 21 outings in Arizona.
"In his bullpen he felt really strong yesterday," Scioscia said. "Based on how he felt in his last start, he didn't have his best stuff."
Haren was 2-0 with a 1.85 ERA in five September starts, holding opponents to a .168 batting average with 29 strikeouts in 34 innings. No wonder he wants to keep rolling right into the offseason.
Scioscia said Haren would have no input in the decision.
"Yes, he does," the manager said when asked if the pitcher wanted to pitch. The decision presumably will be made on Saturday by the braintrust of Scioscia, pitching coach Mike Butcher and general manager Tony Reagins, who is along on the trip.
Bourjos showcases full range of talents
ARLINGTON -- "That one felt good coming off the bat," Peter Bourjos said of his tremendous, game-tying homer in the eighth inning on Thursday night at Rangers Ballpark. His fifth homer in 169 Major League at-bats came against side-armer Darren O'Day and was conservatively estimated at 399 feet.
The Rangers came back to win, 3-2, on Vladimir Guerrero's RBI single in the bottom half of the inning, but Bourjos certainly left an imprint with his full package of skills. Twice, on a drive off the wall in center for a double and a bunt single, the Angels' ultra-swift center fielder forced miscues by Rangers keenly aware of his presence.
"People understand Pete's speed," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Cliff [Lee] knew he had to get to that ball quickly, and he had a little bobble. There was another little bobble by [Julio] Borbon on the ball to center. You play in this league two weeks, and the scouting is there. A lot of teams are seeing it first-hand, seeing the tools he has."
Bourjos, a triple shy of a cycle, stole his 10th base in 48 games and also used his wheels and instincts to run down a couple of drives that could have been extra bases. This is becoming virtually routine.
"Defensively, he's a difference-maker in center field," Scioscia said. "Peter's coming up to the big leagues, and he's the type of kid who tries to take a big chunk out of things. Obviously, he had a big game.
"There's progress. There's still some things he needs to clean up. We're starting to see him make adjustments, understanding what he needs to do. We see him bunting a little more, getting in some better hitting counts. What he did [Thursday night] is in line with his potential."
The Angels need to win the final three games to finish the season at .500. If they do that, they'll take the season series from the Rangers, who lead, 9-7, heading into Friday night. ... Late-game heroics have been rare. The Angels are 1-69 when they trail after eight innings, 2-66 when they trail after seven innings. They're 7-10 when tied after seven innings. ... The Angels have used 130 different lineups. ... Don't blame the rotation: Since Aug. 29, Angels starters have a 2.59 ERA, second best in the Majors. They've held opponents to two or fewer earned runs in 23 of the past 32 games and three or fewer in 28 of 32.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.