ARLINGTON, Texas — Jered Weaver pulled an inside job on the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night. On a scorcher of a 103-degree evening, the Angels ace altered his pregame routine drastically, long tossing on a sliver of shade in the outfield but warming up indoors on a batting-cage mound.
Weaver also took two bags of intravenous fluids before the game — another first — and delivered one of his best starts at the Ballpark in Arlington, a 61/3-inning, two-run, five-hit effort in a 6-2 Angels victory that improved him to 14-1 with a 2.29 earned-run average and extended his winning streak to eight.
"It absolutely helped," said Weaver, who retired the first 14 batters before Michael Young's single in the fifth. "That bullpen gets really hot, and you're pretty much gassed before the game starts. … I'm not one to deal with humidity that well. It takes a lot out of you. I was trying to save some bullets."
Albert Pujols found the heat to be extreme, "and I come from a place that cooks, the Dominican Republic," he said. "It's like 115 degrees on the field. I'm breathing out there, and I feel like I'm burning my mouth through my nose."
The first baseman's bat was smoking, too. Pujols hit a solo home runs in the fourth and sixth innings to help the Angels move to within three games of the Rangers in the American League West, the closest they've been to first place since a three-game deficit June 14.
Pujols has 20 home runs this season, 43 career multi-homer games and 465 career homers, tying him with Dave Winfield for 31st place on the all-time list.
Mike Trout hit a two-run home run in the sixth, his 18th of the year, and walked and scored on Torii Hunter's two-run double in the seventh, giving Trout 10 homers in July, a major league rookie record, and 32 runs in the month, tying the major league rookie record for runs in July, set by Cleveland's Hal Trosky in 1934.
Trout joins Rickey Henderson (1985) as the only players in major league history to hit .350 or better with at least 15 homers and 30 stolen bases before Aug. 1. He has multi-hit efforts in nine of 11 games against the Rangers.
"I just went out there and played my game, and the numbers are where they are," said Trout, who leads the league in average (.353), runs (80) and stolen bases (31). "Being more comfortable up there has helped a lot."
Weaver set the tone with a performance that was in stark contrast to his last game here. The right-hander entered with a 2-7 record and 5.21 ERA in 14 starts at Texas, including his only loss this season, when he was rocked for a career-high eight earned runs and 10 hits in 31/3 innings of an 8-2 Rangers win.
Weaver flew into a rage after giving up a third-inning grand slam to Nelson Cruz that night, screaming obscenities and hurling his glove against the dugout wall.
Tuesday night, he kept his cool, beginning with an indoor warmup that reaped immediate benefits.
"That's as crisp as I've ever seen him start a game here," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He had a lot of energy early."
The idea sprung from an off-season conversation Weaver had with Boston pitcher John Lackey, a former Angels teammate.
"He said Josh Beckett had done it, so I wanted to give it a try," Weaver said. "I didn't have to change shirts or my jersey. Once you start that sweat, it's tough to stop. I'm definitely going to do it next time here."