PHOENIX — Perhaps it took a few starts for right-hander Luke Weaver to demonstrate his value to the Arizona Diamondbacks. After a sparkling 1.04 ERA in spring games, Weaver suffered through his initial two starts of the season but managed to gain stability and economy of pitches Friday night in Chase Field.
Reaching two no-decisions in his initial two starts and an ERA reaching seven runs per game, Weaver settled into the kind of a rhythm, pace and location of pitches designed to keep his team in any game. Despite the best effort of his three starts in Sedona Red, Weaver admitted he ran out of gas in the seventh and fell to the NL West division-leading San Diego Padres, 2-1 before 22,209 in Chase Field.
While Weaver was clearly in command, he slightly took his foot off the gas in the seventh, and that's when the Padres struck. With one out, Wil Myers laced a double down the left field line and Fernando Tatis, Jr. drilled a double to the base of the fence in right. When Myers crossed the plate with the eventual winning run, Weaver felt the sting of defeat for the first time this season.
Despite the loss, the encouragement centered around his ability, for the first time this season, to command the strike zone and keep hitters off-balance with a fastball which reached the mid-90s and a curve which fell out of the strike zone to right-handed hitters.
“I was able to attack and stay aggressive,” Weaver told Fancred. “I pitched to contact and the defense worked. (In the seventh), I could feel the mechanics turning a little downward and I was just not able to get a bite on the ball I had earlier in the game.”
In comparing his initial two starts with the effort against the Padres, Weaver pointed to a learning curve and his ability to adjust. Overall, he allowed five hits, two runs and left with a pitch count at 92, and 60 for strikes Friday night.
“I was able to stay with what I did before and build off of previous outings,” Weaver added. “I saw what I did right and wrong and made some adjustments along the way. Felt that (the Padres game) was a night where everything was clicking and I’ll roll with it into the next outing.”
If Weaver’s effort enabled to Diamondbacks to stay in the game, the offense did not respond. After David Peralta’s RBI single which drove in the lone Arizona run in the third, the last 19 hitters were retired in order. Of the 19 outs, only three were hit to the outfield and, in total, four San Diego pitchers struck out nine.
“We tried out best but need to do a better job,” Peralta told Fancred after the game. “We need to score more runs, but that’s part of the game. Sometimes it works for our side and sometimes it works for their side. That how it is. So, we’ll just turn the page and get ready for the next game. We come every day and work hard to get better like we always do. Tomorrow is another day and we have to win tomorrow.”
Don’t ask me …
With two weeks into the season, things have begun to settle. Teams expected to do well have surfaced, teams thought to be marginal have performed to that manner, and a few surprises.
Coming into Friday’s game, the San Diego Padres were leading the National League West by one game over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Padres are in sole possession of first place in the NL West after the first 14 games for the first time since 1998.
Some reasons for the start include a penchant for hitting homers. Over the opening 14 games, San Diego was fourth in the majors in home runs (20), and trail Milwaukee (23), the Diamondbacks (23) and the Dodgers (29). On the other side of the ball, reliever Craig Stammen’s seven holds leads the majors and closer Kirby Yates, with seven saves, tops the majors.
All of this does absolutely nothing for Andy Green, the San Diego manager.
“It’s been the Dodgers division for a long time,” Green told Fancred before Friday’s game. “That’s probably the consensus in the industry. But, we really don’t care. We came into the year not concerned at all what the outside world had to say about us. We care about our collective group and we have no business evaluating the NL West and that means nothing in this point in time. We’ll take care of our business and see what happens.”
The current homestand concludes on Saturday night (Merrill Kelly, 1-1, 2.57 against Matt Strahm, 0-2, 7.04) and a matinee on Sunday. That's when Zack Greinke (1-1, 7.16) takes on lefty Eric Lauer (2-1, 4.76).
Then, it’s off on a 10-game road trip to Atlanta, engage the Cubs at Wrigley Field and in Pittsburgh. The Diamondbacks return to Chase Field April 26 to face the Cubs.