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Jeff Mathis: Pitchers' duel between Angels' Jered Weaver and Twins' Anthony Swarzak is exciting, excruciating

Calling pitches over nine innings of shutout baseball was exciting, Angels catcher says. But being unable to provide run support for Weaver was frustrating.

May 28, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Jered Weaver threw nine scoreless innings against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday, but the Angels also were unable to score and lost the game in the 10th.
Jered Weaver threw nine scoreless innings against the Minnesota Twins… (Craig Lassig / EPA )

Reporting from Minneapolis — Jeff Mathis admitted that the pitching showdown between Jered Weaver and Minnesota's Anthony Swarzak on Saturday was both exhilarating and frustrating.

Exhilarating because, as a catcher, he got to call the pitches for Weaver's nine scoreless innings. And frustrating because as a hitter he was 0 for 2 against Swarzak in a game in which the Angels were nearly held hitless.

"Every guy that goes to the plate wants to get that big hit for" Weaver, Mathis said. "You want to get in there and battle for him. Not only yourself.

"When you get … two guys out there, battling and doing what they were doing — even though as hitter you're not doing what you want to do — it's still pretty fun to watch."

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, a former catcher, agreed.

"Both pitchers had great poise to be able to challenge hitters and make pitches when you know if you make one mistake, that could be the ballgame."

More perplexing, though, was the fact that his hitters couldn't solve Swarzak, whose last big league win also came against the Angels, in July 2009.

The right-hander has spent most of his time in the minor leagues between the two victories.

"He didn't do anything we didn't expect. Moved the ball around. He just pitched," Scioscia said. "We just didn't have good looks at him, for whatever reason.

"He was definitely sneaky. Pitched inside well. Once he gained momentum and kept making pitches, we just couldn't counter."

Compounding errors

Shortstop Erick Aybar woke up Friday tied for the fewest errors, two, among big league shortstops. But by the time his head hit the pillow that night, the number had doubled.

Just one of those errors came on the field, though. The other came courtesy of Major League Baseball, which backed an appeal by the Angels to have Michael Young's May 14 game-tying single changed to an error on Aybar, who let the ground ball run up his arm and into center field. As a result Young lost a hit and an RBI, and Angels pitcher Dan Haren had an earned run taken off his record, moving him to fifth in the American League with a 2.13 ERA.

Short hops

Outfielder Vernon Wells, out because of a strained right groin, ran turns Saturday for the first time since going on the disabled list May 10. Wells ran on the grass edge of the infield, going from first to third and back twice at game speed, leading Scioscia to suggest the outfielder may be back sooner than anticipated.

"We're very confident we'll get him back in a reasonable amount of time," Scioscia said. "Whether that's two weeks from now, three weeks from now, we don't know."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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