ARLINGTON — On the day that the Los Angeles Angels lost Jered Weaver, the Texas Rangers found Nick Tepesch.That the two would be linked in the same sentence, let alone the same American League West pennant race, toys with all prevailing baseball logic.Weaver, after all, pitched a no-hitter against the Minnesota Twins last season on May 2. On that same day, Tepesch, then 23 years old, was pitching for the Class-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans.Weaver has finished in the top five of the AL Cy Young voting three times. Tepesch pitched last week against the Omaha Storm Chasers.Weaver signed a five-year extension two years ago for $85 million. Tepesch, officially called up Tuesday to start against the Tampa Bay Rays, will earn the major league minimum of $490,000, should he stick around all season.The Angels long, dark weekend continued Tuesday with the news that right-hander Weaver suffered a broken left elbow when he awkwardly tried to keep his balance Sunday on Mitch Morelands liner up the middle. The injury is expected to keep him off the pitching mound for 4-6 weeks.The seismic impact on the Angels, as well as the AL West race, could be considerable. By the middle of May last season, the Angels were 18-25 and mired in last place, even though Weaver had already won six games.Subtract him now from an already underwhelming Angels rotation, and you get what?C.J. Wilson, already pitching on feet of clay in Anaheim, as the surrogate ace of the staff?And while the Angels were reeling from the days developments, the Rangers were getting their first official major league look at Tepesch.Allow me to summarize it:Pop-out. Strikeout. Groundout. Groundout. Groundout. Groundout. Groundout. Strikeout. Groundout, in no particular order.In all, seven-plus innings in which the Rays were able to hit only two balls out of the infield.Tepesch was lifted after surrendering two more hits in the seventh, but the jury of 31,398 at Rangers Ballpark had already reached its verdict. Manager Ron Washington had barely stepped from the dugout to retrieve Tepesch when the audience rose to its feet and began to loudly cheer.The rookie right-hander got a standing ovation. Weaver got a sling for his left arm.I heard it this morning, Washington said, when asked about the Weaver injury before Tuesdays game. Six weeks Jesus.When it rains, it pours.He probably wont lose any sleep, however, over the Angels weather report. The Rangers have a pitching concern of their own to monitor, after Opening Night starter Matt Harrison reported feeling stiffness in his lower back.Tepeschs performance should ease those concerns. From the fourth inning until Kelly Johnsons infield single in the eighth, he retired 12 Rays in a row.Tepeschs pitching line 7 1/3 innings, 4 hits-or-less and 1 run-or-less allowed was announced in the press box as the best early season major league pitching debut since Cincinnatis Wayne Simpson threw nine shutout innings 43 years ago.It was mesmerizing to watch, not to mention largely unexpected.Tepesch earned the job as the rotations No. 5 starter with a solid, unflappable, strike-throwing performance throughout spring training.He really only had one subpar Arizona outing, a game against Colorado when he gave up half of the 24 hits and eight of the 13 runs he allowed all spring.Granted, the Rays, who train in Florida, had never faced him before. But on Tuesday, the ground balls kept on coming.Tampa Bays Ben Zobrist never hit the ball past second base. Ditto for Matt Joyce. Evan Longoria grounded out twice to third base.The Rangers found their No. 5 starter Tuesday.The Angels lost their No. 1.
Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gillebreton