ANAHEIM -- Three days after agreeing to a five-year, $85 million contract extension, Jered Weaver dominated the Chicago White Sox Wednesday to help the Angels pull to within 2 1/2 games of the first-place Texas Rangers in the AL West.
Less than a week ago, the Angels were seven games out, but they've trimmed the deficit thanks to a six-game winning streak.
Ace shines. This was exactly the kind of clinical, efficient start the Angels needed from Weaver now that they're going to turn around and use him on three days' rest this weekend in Texas. Weaver (15-6) was able to buzz his way through seven innings without too much fuss -- and with just 96 pitches -- thanks to an aggressive Chicago lineup, relentless strike-throwing and a brilliant breaking ball.
Maligned catcher. Nothing gets Angels fans worked up like the topic of Jeff Mathis. He had an interesting night. He helped Weaver get through another masterful outing and he hit a two-run double in the second inning to stake him to a lead. The odd part about that is that Mathis dropped his head and went into his home run trot on the double, a ball that short-hopped the wall. Had it gone out, it would have been Mathis' third home run.
Balance. What has slowed down the Angels' momentum all season has been holes in the lineup that have disrupted chemistry and ended innings. With Mathis' contribution, plus two hits (and a walk!) from Vernon Wells, the Angels finally displayed offensive depth. It might have been a one-night phenomenon, but it was effective. Every starter other than Peter Bourjos reached base safely.
Playing time. One of the reasons Hank Conger played so much better at Triple-A after the Angels demoted him in July is he got to play every day again. Then they brought him back to add some spark to their lineup and ... he has started exactly one game since showing up on Thursday. It seems like an odd way to handle one of your best young players. You could make similar comments about the fact Mike Trout has been on the bench the last two games.
Cooling-off period. The way Bourjos was going, it seemed unlikely he would stay that hot. He hasn't. Though he had the winning hit Tuesday night, Bourjos has one hit in his last nine at-bats and three strikeouts. On balance, though, this has been a wildly successful first full season for a player who seems like a lock to win a Gold Glove.
Adam Dunn. He's the guy Wells can point to when he wants to feel better about his season. The Chicago White Sox slugger is on pace to have the worst batting average by a player who qualifies for the batting title in the live-ball era, breaking Rob Deer's record from 1991. Dunn's disastrous season continued with three strikeouts and a double play. He's now batting .165.