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Angels surging without help from Jered Weaver, Howie Kendrick

Ace pitcher Weaver has been on the disabled list since May 29. Kendrick had no extra-base hits in 31 consecutive games until he hit a double Saturday night. The Angels are 4 1/2 games behind Texas.

June 17, 2012|By Lance Pugmire
  • Jered Weaver pitches against the Kansas City Royals on Opening Day.
Jered Weaver pitches against the Kansas City Royals on Opening Day. (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

Only the New York Yankees have played better than the Angels since May 22.

Just imagine if ace pitcher Jered Weaver had contributed a victory. Or if Howie Kendrick had one extra-base hit.

The Angels, whose Saturday night interleague game against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks was not complete at press time, are 16-6 in their surge.

They've made what appeared in late April to be a Texas Rangers runaway a race in the American League West, trailing by 41/2 games before Saturday's first pitch.

"This is how we expected to play — even better," Weaver said Saturday.

"We're coming together, having fun, and definitely what I'm here for is to help us win. We've got to keep it rolling."

Weaver has been on the disabled list since May 29, however, sidelined after suffering a lower-back strain pitching against the Yankees on May 28.

He was pleased Saturday to show up without any discomfort from a crisp 60-pitch simulated game Friday in which he threw his best pitches.

If Weaver emerges from a Sunday 35-to-40-pitch bullpen session in comfort, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said Saturday it's "doable" that Weaver will return to the Anaheim mound this week.

"It hasn't been fun sitting out, being down and out for these last 15 games," Weaver (6-1, 2.61 earned-run average) said. "It's getting to me."

The emergence of center fielder Mike Trout, who's leading the American League in batting (.350) and runs scored (35) since May 1, has sparked the Angels along with the addition of new closer Ernesto Frieri (18 scoreless relief appearances with 34 strikeouts).

This has happened all while second baseman Kendrick has scuffled at the plate, with no extra-base hits in 31 consecutive games since May 9 until he lined a double down the left-field line Saturday.

"My swing's been good … I feel good, it's just part of baseball," said Kendrick, a career .292 hitter who signed a four-year contract extension before the season and is hitting .263 now. "Every player goes through a rough spell. You can be squaring up on the ball fine, but if you're hitting it at people, all you see are outs. … The good thing is we're winning."

Scioscia said in the most recent road series at Dodger Stadium that Kendrick was "just a tick off, fouling balls straight back, getting hard hits with nothing to show for it — signs he's getting the bat head on the ball more consistently."

Kendrick had gap power the last two seasons, with a combined 71 doubles. He has eight to show playing in his 66th game.

"You're not going to have everyone healthy and producing at the same time," Scioscia said. "The real test of a team is the depth of its roster."

Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto vowed confidence and patience with Kendrick, saying, "You go through highs and lows over 160 games. With the good ones, like Howie, you'll look up at the end and the numbers will be there."

lance.pugmire@latimes.com twitter.com/latimespugmire

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