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BILL SHAIKIN / ON BASEBALL

So far, it's an L.A. thing in the playoffs

The Dodgers and Angels are leading their series 2-0, leaving them halfway to baseball's final four. And brothers Jeff and Jered Weaver have both won a game.

October 10, 2009|BILL SHAIKIN | ON BASEBALL

Beat L.A.?

No one has. Not yet, not this October.

Beat the Weavers?

No one has, not in this wild and wonderful October.

The Dodgers and Angels each are one win away from filling half the spots in baseball's final four, for the first time.

The Dodgers have two victories, one from Jeff Weaver. The Angels have two victories, one from Jered Weaver.

Simi Valley, thank you very much. The hometown kids have done the hometown teams proud.

Mom and Dad, who watched the boys pitch against each other at Angel Stadium in June, beamed with pride from the box seats Friday night. Their younger son tamed the Boston Red Sox, in historic fashion.

The Angels didn't give Jered Weaver a start against Boston last October. They did this October, and he delivered possibly the finest postseason start in Angels history.

Never had an Angels starter pitched at least seven innings in the playoffs and given up as few as two hits. When Mike Scioscia finally came out to get him, with 22 outs down and five to go, the manager took the ball and slapped Weaver's back, as he always does.

And then Mike Napoli, the catcher, gave Weaver a slap too. That almost never happens, but a Nap Slap definitely was in order, with the Red Sox on the verge of extinction.

"I was excited," Napoli said. "I was excited for him. I was excited for the team."

Weaver went on his way, but not before taking off his cap and waving it high above his head, to a raucous standing ovation, to a sellout crowd that adored him nearly as much as his parents did.

"I had to tip my cap to them for being here," Weaver said. "Being able to do that in front of them was pretty special."

His parents in particular, but everyone else in general.

If the Angels have issues in middle relief, the Red Sox have yet to exploit them. The Angels haven't given Boston a chance.

The Red Sox recipe for success: Take pitches, foul pitches, take more pitches, foul more pitches, wear down the starter, get him out of the game early, get into the soft underbelly of the bullpen.

Weaver followed John Lackey in standing tall, in feeding pitch after pitch to the corners of the strike zone, in simply refusing to let down.

Lackey got all but five outs, giving up four singles, no extra-base hits and one walk. Weaver got all but five outs, giving up one triple, one single and two walks.

The number of runners the Red Sox got past first base against him: One.

"They were going to have to step up and beat him," Scioscia said. "He never took his hand off the throttle."

Weaver retired the Red Sox in order in the first inning, and the second, and the third. Nine up, nine down, in 39 pitches, well below the going rate against the Sox.

He gave up a run in the fourth, but he ended the inning with a strikeout. He ended the fifth with a strikeout, and the sixth with a strikeout too, with the fans on their feet.

On any other night, that might have been enough.

He had thrown 92 pitches. The speed of his fastball had dropped a little, from 89 to 92 mph in the first inning to 87-90 mph in the sixth, although Scioscia said that might have reflected a few more two-seam fastballs more than a blip in his velocity.

Not that it mattered, not for long. His last pitch of the sixth inning, for his sixth strikeout, hit 91 mph.

On this night, he would keep going. He had a two-hitter, after all. He got through the seventh, struck out the first batter he faced in the eighth. That was that, save for the Nap Slap and the standing ovation.

This is crazy stuff. Both the Dodgers and Angels could have been here without their Weavers.

Jeff Weaver started the season with his third triple-A team in two years. And, when the Angels tried to pry Adrian Gonzalez and Jake Peavy from the San Diego Padres last winter, they dangled Jered Weaver as the marquee piece of a trade package.

The trade talks went nowhere, so neither did Jered. The Dodgers brought Jeff back to the major leagues.

"It's not very often where two brothers can be in the same playoff in the same season," Jered said. "So it's really cool for the both of us. We're both rooting each other on, and hopefully, it can be an L.A.-L.A. World Series, which would be really sweet."

Dream weavers, all right. They're weaving, and we're dreaming. Pinch us. We don't care. The box scores tell no lies, the ones that tell us Jeff Weaver is 1-0, Jered Weaver is 1-0 and L.A. is 4-0.

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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