3 Up, 3 Down: Rays 12, Angels 3

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The one constant the Los Angeles Angels could always count on during their rocky, unpredictable season was Jered Weaver giving them a solid outing. While the other high-priced arms on the staff failed to deliver, Weaver was always there for them each time he took the mound.

For the second straight start, however, Weaver wasn’t himself and the Angels now have to wonder where their season is headed if their Cy Young candidate can’t even give them a quality start.

Weaver gave up nine runs and was pulled in the fourth inning without recording an out as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Angels 12-3 on Friday night and pushed the Angels to seven games behind the Texas Rangers in the American League West.

The good:

Kendrick. On a night when the Angels could do nothing right offensively, Howie Kendrick was one of the few bright spots. He hit a two-run homer to right center in the fourth inning to bring the Angels to within 9-3, which is as close as they would get. Kendrick now has hits in 15 of his past 17 games and is batting .317 since June 9.

Aybar. Erick Aybar homered to right center to cut the Rays’ lead in half (2-1) in the third inning before the game got out of hand. It was a solid game for Aybar, who was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. Aybar is batting .368 with nine runs and three home runs since being reinstated from the disabled list on Aug. 6. After batting .197 through the season’s first 40 games, he owns the top average by a shortstop in baseball at .309.

Downs and Walden. One of the few bits of good news on the night for the Angels was they will be getting some much-needed reinforcements in the bullpen this weekend. Scott Downs is expected to be activated Saturday and Jordan Walden could be activated by Sunday. Walden, who was the Opening Day closer, has been on the disabled list since July 15 with a strained right biceps, while Downs has been out since July 28 with a left shoulder strain. “It’s going to be huge for us [to get Downs and Walden back], but it has to be paired with more effective starting pitching if it’s going to work,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We hope those two things will come together.”

The bad:

Weaver. Weaver wasn’t just bad Friday night, it was “Could this season be slipping away from the Angels?” bad. It was as if whatever sickness has been ailing the rest of the staff this season finally spread to Weaver like a terrible cold. Weaver gave up a career-high nine runs before getting pulled in the fourth inning without getting anyone out. It was an almost surreal sight as Weaver walked off the mound before Scioscia could get to him. Weaver allowed eight hits, including two home runs after he had won 10 straight before losing on Sunday. He had given up only three home runs at home in his previous nine starts. He has given up four in his past two starts. Suddenly that Cy Young award most thought was in the bag for Weaver is not such a sure thing anymore.

Fourth inning. If the Angels fail to make the playoffs, even the most optimistic Angels fans will have to admit the fourth inning of this game was the moment they felt the season slipping away. The Rays scored seven runs during a seemingly never-ending fourth inning on Friday, as Weaver was unable to get anyone out. He faced seven batters and gave up five hits, two walks and five runs and recorded no outs. It was Weaver at his all-time worst and the Angels in their most hopeless state.

Bullpen. Well, this one has been a given this season, but combine a bullpen in shambles with a career-bad start for Weaver and you have one ugly night for the Angels. After Weaver was taken out of the game, LaTroy Hawkins came in and gave up a two-run single, although both runs were charged to Weaver. The Angels also used Hisanori Takahashi, Jason Isringhausen and Steven Geltz out of the bullpen, with each one giving up at least two hits. This month the Angels’ pitchers have combined for a 6.17 ERA, the worst in the American League, and have allowed four or more runs in an inning 11 times in past 17 games, the most in baseball.