Reporting from Arlington, Texas — Jered Weaver, strikeout king? It had a certain ring to it Friday night for the Angels, who saw their ace take over the major league strikeout lead by pushing his season-ending total to 233 in a seven-inning, two-run, six-hit performance against the Texas Rangers.
Unfortunately for Weaver, who struck out four, the outcome had a familiar ring. Fernando Rodney suffered another ninth-inning meltdown, casting more doubt on his ability to close next season and costing Weaver a victory, the fifth time this season Weaver left a game in position to win and came up empty-handed.
The Angels won, 5-4, in 11 innings, but it wasn't pretty. Juan Rivera hit his second homer, a solo shot in the 11th, and rookie Michael Kohn bailed the Angels out of a two-on, no-outs jam in the bottom of the 11th for his first save.
The Angels rallied for two runs in the eighth on Peter Bourjos' sacrifice fly and Maicer Izturis RBI single to take a 3-2 lead, and Rivera's ninth-inning homer made it 4-2.
But with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Rodney hit Ian Kinsler with a pitch and walked Mitch Moreland, who had homered twice against Weaver.
Bengie Molina singled off third baseman Alberto Callaspo's glove, the ball trickling into shallow left field. Kinsler scored, and Moreland advanced to third when Rodney failed to cover the bag.
Pedro Borbon popped to short for the second out. Rodney picked off pinch-runner Esteban German at first, but while German was in a rundown, Moreland broke for home and scored the tying run when Rivera threw wide of the plate.
Rodney walked Elvis Andrus and got Michael Young to ground out to end the inning, but he now has four blown saves, two losses and an earned run average of 6.46 in 16 appearances since Sept. 6.
"It's been a little sketchy this month, but he's an important piece of the back of the bullpen," Manager Mike Scioscia said of Rodney. "He's pitched a lot, and he might be trying to generate some velocity, which is affecting his command."
Whiff of Weaver
That Weaver could be the first Angel to lead the major leagues in strikeouts since Nolan Ryan had 341 in 1977 is remarkable for a guy who is not considered overpowering.
Weaver's fastball hovers in the 91-mph range, but he still passed Seattle ace Felix Hernandez (232) and San Francisco ace Tim Lincecum (231) Friday night.
Hernandez was scheduled to start Sunday, but the Mariners scratched him because he's thrown a major league-high 249 2/3 innings. Lincecum is not scheduled to pitch this weekend.
Weaver closed with a 13-12 record, a 3.01 ERA and a career-high 224 1/3 innings pitched. Of his 3,712 pitches, 2,419, or 65%, were strikes.
"Changing speeds with every pitch has been a key," Weaver said. "Anything you can do to keep the hitters off-balance is good. When you throw 91, you have to figure out ways to get people out."
The Toronto Blue Jays have received permission from the Angels to interview bench coach Ron Roenicke for their manager's job, which opened with the retirement of Cito Gaston.
A major league source confirmed the contact between the teams on Friday. Roenicke confirmed that he had an interview lined up but would not name the club.
Roenicke, who has served 11 seasons under Mike Scioscia, six as third base coach and five as bench coach, interviewed for managerial jobs in Seattle in 2005 and Cleveland in 2009, and Scioscia believes the 54-year-old former outfielder is ready.
"He's been ready for a while," Scioscia said. "He has great evaluation skills, and I think he understands all the aspects of baseball to put together and to lead a team."