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Weaver stings Toronto for second time

Weaver stings Toronto for second time

TORONTO -- During a radio interview early on Wednesday, Cito Gaston made the mistake of saying he was happy not to have to see the Angels again this season after the current series in Toronto. The Blue Jays manager later realized that Los Angeles returns to Rogers Centre in late August.

Gaston has yet to closely examine the schedule, but he is praying that his club doesn't have to face right-hander Jered Weaver when the Angels do come back to town. On Wednesday night, Weaver confused the Blue Jays' hitters for the second time this season, dealing Toronto a decisive 8-1 loss.

Following the defeat, Gaston sat inside the manager's office, appearing as baffled as his lineup.

"Whatever he's doing out there," Gaston said, "let him go do it somewhere else."

For the Angels, it was a fitting dose of payback. Weaver's stellar seven-inning performance came one night after Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay struck out a career-high 14 batters in a win over Los Angeles. In the second game of the three-game set, it was Weaver who racked up a career-best with 10 strikeouts, including five among the first six batters he retired.

Weaver methodically sliced his way through Toronto's lineup, making the subpar performance from Blue Jays starter Casey Janssen more difficult to overcome. After watching Janssen allow five runs through four innings, Gaston pulled the plug and turned to his bullpen, hoping to stop the bleeding and buy his offense time to mount a rally.

That wasn't destined to happen on this evening against Weaver.

"He does just enough to give you an uncomfortable at-bat," said Blue Jays veteran Kevin Millar.

Weaver has made things downright miserable for Toronto's right-handed hitters.

In his latest outing, Weaver shut down the Blue Jays' righties completely, giving up no hits in 19 at-bats. In his two starts against Toronto this season, Weaver has limited the right-handed batters to a .050 (2-for-40) average with 14 strikeouts. Entering Wednesday night, righties had only managed to hit at a .190 clip against the Angels young starter this season.

Millar said a lot of that has to do with Weaver's deceptive delivery.

"He throws across his body and throws the pitch away to righties," Millar explained. "He steps at you and throws across his body and has good control with his breaking balls. He throws a really good changeup, which most righties don't throw to righties, along with a good slider and a curveball and he spots his fastball."

Weaver (5-2) located especially well early in the count. The right-hander registered a first-pitch strike to 19 of the 26 Toronto hitters he faced, catching 13 batters looking to begin an at-bat. That helped Weaver put the hitters behind in the count quickly, and left Gaston wishing his offense had been a little more aggressive.

"I thought our guys took a lot of first-pitch fastballs," Gaston said. "You'd probably like to see them get on that first pitch a little bit more. I don't know. I don't know if the guys don't pick him up well."

Probably not, considering how the Jays (30-25) have fared in their two meetings with Weaver this year.

On May 7 in Anaheim, the right-hander fashioned his first career complete game, holding Toronto to one run on three hits over nine innings. Over 16 innings this season, Weaver has compiled 18 strikeouts against two walks -- both on Wednesday -- with three hits allowed in each of his two wins against the Blue Jays.

"He's just 5-2," Gaston said. "The way he's throwing the ball against us, he looks like he should be 10-2."

The only batters to do anything against Weaver in his latest effort were Jays left fielder Adam Lind and first baseman Lyle Overbay, who both hit left-handed. After Weaver yielded no hits through four innings, Lind opened the fifth with a double and later scored on a two-base hit from Overbay. Lind doubled again in the seventh and finished 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles.

By that time the Jays broke through for one run, though the Angels (26-25) had already built an ample lead.

Janssen (1-2), making his third start of the season after missing all of last year due to a right shoulder injury, struggled to keep his pitches in the lower half of the strike zone. L.A.'s Bobby Abreu clubbed a two-run home run in the first inning, Kendry Morales added an RBI single in the third, and Chone Figgins roped a run-scoring double in the fourth to help the Angels to a 5-0 lead.

"I was just kind of fighting everything tonight," Janssen said. "It just started off bad and didn't get much better."

Gaston decided he had seen enough, even though Janssen had only logged 69 pitches.

"He wasn't on tonight," Gaston said. "He was just off. You think about him being out for a whole year, too. Maybe you might give him a little bit of rest and he can come back strong next time he's out there."

Gaston handed the ball to reliever Shawn Camp, and the right-hander responded with three shutout innings in which he struck out four. That gave the Jays a chance to cut into the Angels' lead -- something that might have happened had Weaver not been the one on the mound. Making matters worse, Los Angeles added three runs in the eighth to push the game out of reach.

The Jays are hoping to avoid Weaver for the rest of 2009.

"The less we see him, the better off we are," Gaston said.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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