CLEVELAND -- He's a long shot to get the nod, given his pedestrian and highly deceiving 11-11 record, but Jered Weaver took legitimate Cy Young Award numbers to the mound against the Indians on Wednesday night at Progressive Field.Among pitchers who have thrown at least one inning for every game their team has played, the Angels' ace is high on the leaderboard in almost every significant category. A model of consistency, Weaver has yielded four or more runs only six times in his 30 starts, and with the 2009 Angels offense behind him, he'd have an excellent shot at 20 wins, rather than an outside shot at 15. His 3.06 ERA entering Wednesday was sixth-best in the American League. His 1.09 WHIP (walks + hits / innings pitched) left him tied for third with Felix Hernandez, behind Cliff Lee's 1.01 and Trevor Cahill's 1.05. Weaver's .269 on-base percentage yielded is second to Lee's .256. Second to Hernandez in strikeouts with 211, Weaver is fourth in innings pitched at 197. His 9.64 strikeouts per nine innings are third, surpassed only by Brandon Morrow's 10.95 and Jon Lester's 9.85. With a 4.14 ratio of strikeouts to walks, the righty is second only to Lee's amazing 11.07. "I think Weav is throwing the ball better right now than any time since he's been in the big leagues -- including his first year in the big leagues, when he won nine straight," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's putting pitches together better and executing pitches better. "As a pitcher in the Major Leagues, you can't control wins and losses. It takes a team to get a win -- the offensive side, defensive side. With your ability to get deep in games, it'll give you a fertile environment for wins. It's worked for Ervin [Santana, with 16 victories] but not for Jered Weaver -- and Dan Haren, too."
Conger swift to make impact in first start
CLEVELAND -- Thirty years ago, at age 21, Mike Scioscia debuted behind home plate for the Dodgers with Rick Sutcliffe on the mound. The young catcher's next assignment would involve Don Sutton, a future Hall of Famer.With Angels ace Jered Weaver starting on Wednesday night, Scioscia decided it was as good a time as any to introduce Hank Conger to the role of Major League catcher. Conger's starting debut -- he called it "something you dream for as a kid" -- yielded a quick reward in the form of a souvenir baseball. Conger went the other way for a two-out single in the first inning against Indians right-hander Jeanmar Gomez. His first big league hit produced his first two RBIs and made his manager look like a prophet. "He's got the ability to give us a little offense," Scioscia said of Conger, who hails from Huntington Beach, Calif., a few miles down the road from Angel Stadium, and was the club's first-round choice in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. "I think Weav will be comfortable with him. "There's always going to be some rough edges. Maybe what [Conger] doesn't have in experience, he can overcome with talent right now. We want him to get comfortable behind the plate and get in his game. He can play." A switch-hitter with power from both sides, Conger, 22, already has had a big moment in his future home park. He unloaded a three-run homer and was named MVP of the annual All-Star Futures Game preceding the All-Star Game at Angel Stadium in July. Conger came into Wednesday's game with one at-bat, striking out, since he was summoned from Triple-A Salt Lake, where he batted .300 with 26 doubles, 11 homers and 49 RBIs in 387 at-bats. He finished with a bang, collecting 16 hits in his final 38 at-bats.
Cassevah cranks up the heat
CLEVELAND -- When Bobby Cassevah joined the Angels for a four-day fling in early April, the young right-hander was throwing in the low 90s, focusing on hitting the edges of the plate.Dispatched to Triple-A Salt Lake for more seasoning with Francisco Rodriguez getting the call to the big time, Cassevah -- a Rule 5 choice last December by the Athletics, returned to the Angels this spring -- took some advice from manager Mike Scioscia and reverted to old-style hardball. "When I got sent down the first time," said Cassevah, who earned a 14-day callup in May, "they told me to start letting it go. That's what I want to do. Anything to get outs. "Scioscia said there's a big difference between 95 and 90 [mph]. I had a good season last year throwing 94 to 96 but had some trouble throwing strikes. In Spring Training, I was focusing on throwing strikes and was 88 to 90." Blessed with natural downward movement on his heater, Cassevah gets his share of ground balls. He showed his stuff with four outs of scoreless relief on Tuesday night against the Indians and owns a 5.56 ERA in 11 1/3 innings with the Angels. He was 3-4 with five saves and a 4.27 ERA for Salt Lake in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
The Angels' high Class A affiliate at Rancho Cucamonga moved on to the California League Championship Series for the first time since 1998 by knocking out the Padres' Lake Elsinore Storm with a 6-5 come-from-behind triumph on Tuesday night. Aptly named right fielder Angel Castillo delivered the decisive blow with two outs in the ninth, a walk-off double against California League Pitcher of the Year Brad Brach that delivered the tying and winning runs. The Quakes open the best-of-five final series at San Jose against the Giants on Thursday. ... Hideki Matsui continues to tear it up. From Aug. 14 through Tuesday, a full month, the Angels' primary designated hitter bashed away at a .405 clip, second-highest in the Majors during that stretch behind Paul Konerko, who hit .420 for the White Sox. Matsui collected RBIs in 19 of his past 22 starts entering Wednesday and collected his 77th RBI of the season on Wednesday, trailing team leader Torii Hunter by three. Matsui is batting .308 since the All-Star break with a .555 slugging mark and .407 on-base percentage... . On the down side of the ledger, the Angels are batting only .194 with runners in scoring position since Aug. 1 entering Wednesday. ... The Angels' 11-game deficit in the American League West coming into Wednesday night's game is their largest since they came in 19 games off the pace in 2003.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.