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Weaver agrees it's time to hit the road after Rangers torch Angels

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- When the Angels arrived here on Friday there was only one thing going consistently well for them, and it was what they figured would be one of their biggest strengths this season.

Starting pitching.

Even that turned against them here.

When the Angels "showdown" series with the Rangers kicked off Friday, the Angels' 2.44 starters' ERA was the best in the American League.

By the time the Rangers finished outscoring the Angels 25-13 in these three games, the starters' ERA was inflated by more than a run, to 3.76.

Ace Jeff Weaver was absolutely scorched in Sunday's series finale, surrendering eight runs in just 3 1/3 innings. As he said a couple of times afterward, Texas' brawny lineup, which leads the AL in runs, batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and several other categories, leaves a pitcher with "no room to breathe."

"They're not the best offense in the league right now for no reason," said Weaver, who went into a screaming rage in the dugout after surrendering a third-inning Nelson Cruz grand slam. "You've got to be on your A game."

These days, the Angels aren't much above a C game.

"They didn't do anything to surprise us," manager Mike Scioscia said of the Rangers. "They can swing the bats."

The Rangers, coming off back-to-back World Series appearances, now have beaten the Angels in six of the past seven games the two teams have played and in 10 of 13.

Weaver now is 2-7 with a 5.21 ERA in 14 career starts at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Sunday, every Texas starter reached base via either a hit or a walk. All but David Murphy had at least one hit. The Rangers also banged out seven doubles.

One of those doubles came from Josh Hamilton, whom the Angels opted to pitch to with runners on second and third with one out in the fourth. The Angels trailed 6-2 at that point ... and it was 8-2 by the time Hamilton was finished with them.

The Angels' braintrust asked Weaver whether he wanted to pitch to Hamilton, whom Weaver had fanned twice already, or put him on base. Weaver opted to pitch to him.

"We talked about expanding the zone, and I felt like I did that," said Weaver, now 5-1 with a 2.83 ERA. "But he was able to get his hands out."

Texas manager Ron Washington was talking about that before the game, how skilled Hamilton is at reaching out and slugging pitches that are just off the strike zone. Weaver became Hamilton's latest victim.

"When Vladdy was in his prime," Weaver said of former teammate Vladimir Guerrero, noting how that part of Hamilton's game reminds him of that. "He's not a guy who likes to walk. Off the plate, inside, down on the ground, he's a very talented hitter."

The Rangers, who now lead the Angels by eight games in the AL West, had Weaver so disgusted with himself by the fourth inning that as he left the field, he was singing along with stadium sound system as they blasted Ray Charles' Hit the Road, Jack.

"Because that's exactly what I needed to do," he explained. "It was definitely time for me to hit the road at that time."

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