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Angels' Jered Weaver is impressed with Seattle ace Felix Hernandez

Weaver says an already tough Hernandez will 'have a little more fire in his belly' Saturday against the Angels, after he failed to hold a 7-0 lead in his last outing against them.

July 12, 2013|By Mike DiGiovanna

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SEATTLE  -- Angels ace Jered Weaver has gained so much respect for Felix Hernandez that he calls the Seattle Mariners ace "one of the best competitors in the league," which is something of a concern entering Saturday night, when Weaver will square off against Hernandez for the 10th time.

Hernandez, the 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner, shares the league lead with a 2.69 earned-run average and ranks fourth with 136 strikeouts. However, he has not been as dominant against the Angels, going 7-12 with a 4.12 ERA in 32 career starts against them.

And the last time Hernandez (9-4) faced them, June 20 in Anaheim, he failed to hold a 7-0, third-inning lead, the Angels pounding the right-hander for five runs and seven hits in the fifth, including Peter Bourjos' solo homer and Mark Trumbo's three-run shot, in an eventual 10-9 victory.

"I'm sure he'll have a little more fire in his belly because of that game," Weaver said. "Obviously, he's going to have some games where things get away from him, but he's tough every time he goes out there. He has one of the best arms in the league. He can throw any pitch at any time with velocity and movement."

Weaver isn't too shabby, either. A 20-game winner in 2012, Weaver missed most of April and May because of a left elbow fracture, and he struggled to regain his velocity and form in three of his first five starts off the disabled list.

But the right-hander has allowed only two earned runs and 15 hits, struck out 17 and walked four in 20 2/3 innings of his last three starts, a no-decision against Detroit and wins over St. Louis and Boston, his fastball touching 91 and 92 mph.

Weaver is also 12-7 with a 3.21 ERA in 25 career starts against Seattle and is 5-1 with a 3.02 ERA in the nine games he has started opposite Hernandez. Hernandez is 1-6 with a 5.88 ERA in games against Weaver.

Familiarity can be a foe for pitchers. The Angels believe one reason they have had success against Hernandez is they have seen him so many times. But Weaver has faced Seattle almost as many times as Hernandez has faced the Angels.

"When you face a team that many times, you have to be almost perfect and change your game plan as much as possible," Weaver said. "You can't really stay one way, or teams are going to figure you out."

Short hops

Tommy Hanson (right forearm strain) is scheduled to throw a simulated game of 30-35 pitches Saturday and appears on track to pitch July 23 against Minnesota, the next day the Angels need a fifth starter. … The Angels failed to sign 12th-round pick William Goins, a right-handed pitcher from Pearland (Texas) High School, before Friday's deadline. Goins will attend the University of Texas. The Angels did sign their other 38 picks from the June draft. … The Angels entered Friday having grounded into a major league-high 93 double plays, 11 more than any other AL team.

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