Remember earlier this season when the Angels were leading the league in shutouts? I'm talking about the futility of an offense rather than the dominance of a pitching staff. Two and a half months later, my how the tables have turned. How many shutouts do the Angels have this season?
The offense turned around, and Angels pitchers had a stretch of some kind of amazing as they racked up wins and blanked opponents and now lead the league with 12 shutouts of opposing teams after Jered Weaver's 3-0 win against the Baltimore Orioles Saturday night.
Here, I'll break down the Angels 12 shutouts, a team record before the All Star break.
*Update: Angels spot starter, Brad Mills combined with LaTroy Hawkins, Kevin Jepsen, Jordan Walden, and Ernesto Frieri to toss the Angels 13th shutout against the Orioles on Sunday.
April 6, Opening Day vs. Kansas City Royals
Angels got off to a great start to the season by shutting out the Royals 5-0 at home for Albert Pujols debut as an Angels. The highly paid slugger didn't get a hit, but Weaver managed to go 8 innings, racking up 10 strikeouts and Scott Downs came in to close the door. Sound familiar?
April 16, Oakland As, Weaver's 1,000th Strikeout
Weaver was on the mound for this one. He didn't go the distance, pitching 6 and 2/3 innings, but struck out 6 batters, one of which served as his 1,000th career strikeout, as the Angels beat the As 6-0 at home.
May 1, Minnesota Twins, Jerome Williams 3-hitter
Nothing more than a journeyman the past couple of years before finding success in the back end of the Angels pitching rotation last year, Williams has really felt a comfort level in Anaheim that he has experienced in few other places. He showed his confidence by dominating a weak Twins lineup 4-0 with a complete game, 3-hit shutout, his first complete game since June 27, 2003 (his only other shut out).
May 2, Minnesota Twins, Weaver's No-Hitter
The very next night after Williams 3-hitter, Weaver mastered the Twins 9-0 by throwing the 10th no-hitter in franchise history. It was only the second no-hitter since 1990 (Ervin Santana had thrown his no-no the year before), and was only one walk and a strikeout/passed ball away from a perfect game. Weaver struck out 9 and continued to show his dominance as one of the elite pitchers in baseball.
May 15, Oakland As, Santana Finally Gets Run Support
After leading the league in lack of run support, the Angels had been shut out in 5 straight of Santana's starts earlier in the season, Santana discovered the best way to make up for lack of run support: shut out the other team. Santana combined with Downs and Ernesto Frieri to drop the As, 4-0 at home.
May 22, at Oakland As, CJ Throws 1-Hitter
Up until this point, all of the Angels previous shutouts had come at home. CJ Wilson decided to take the show on the road, combining with Frieri to one-hit the As for the third shutout over the team this season. Wilson went 8 innings and racked up 7 strikeouts allowing only 1 hit and 2 walks en route to a 5-0 win. He would have been allowed to finish the game had he not had a pitch count over 125.
May 24, at Seattle Mariners, Dan Haren Strikes Out Almost EVERYBODY
Haren tore apart a Mariners lineup, racking up 14 strikeouts in a complete game, 4-hit shutout. The Angels won 3-0, and Haren struck out every member of the Mariner's lineup except for lead off second baseman, Dustin Ackley.
June 16, Arizona Diamondbacks, Santana Gets Advice from Joe Saunders
Santana had been struggling mightily this season. With the call up of Garrett Richards, and the imminent return of Weaver, there had been talks that Santana might get sent down to Triple A to work on his command. The day before the game, ex-teammate and Arizona pitcher, Saunders, met up with Santana to give him a little pep talk. Whatever Saunders said ended up working perfectly as Santana took a perfect game into the 7th inning and ended up tossing a one-hit shutout as the Angels won 2-0 at home. I don't think Saunders wanted Santana to use his advice until after his team had left town.
June 17, Arizona Diamondbacks, Richards Joins the Shutout Party
Angels shutouts this season seem to come in pairs. A day after Santana 1-hit the Diamondbacks, Richards combined with Frieri to throw a 4-hit shut out to beat the D-Backs 2-0 again. With the shutout, Richards became the sixth Angel starter to toss a complete game or combined shutout this season. How many rotations in baseball can claim to have six shutout-quality pitchers?
June 20, San Francisco Giants, Weaver Returns
Despite being on a VERY limited pitch count once returning from the disabled list due to a back injury, Weaver sailed through 6 innings and 78 pitches by giving up only 2 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 3 to combine with Jason Isringhausen, Downs and Jordan Walden to shut out the Giants 6-0. With the win, Weaver proved that, despite missing time on the DL, he is still in contention for his first Cy Young award.
July 2, at Cleveland Indians, Weaver Again
Who's the best pitcher in the American League right now? Without a doubt it's Jered Weaver. The guy combined with Downs for his 5th shutout of the season as the Angels beat the Indians 3-0 away. Of the Angels 12 first half shutouts, only 3 of them have come away.
July 7, Baltimore Orioles, You Guessed It, Weaver Weaver Weaver
Big bad Weaver once again combined with Downs to 3-hit the Orioles to pick up his 6th shutout of the season.
The Angels have 13 shutouts this season, 3 higher than the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants. Will Jered Weaver get the start for the American League in the All Star game? If allowed, he would probably shut out the best in the NL as well. Despite their recent struggles, the Angels have continuously demonstrated that they have the best rotation in baseball.
Which team's pitching rotation do you think rivals the Angels this season? Leave a comment in the comment section below.