Luke Weaver dominates in return from injured list as D-backs beat Padres
PHOENIX — Luke Weaver in his first appearance on a big league mound in nearly four months allowed only one run across six innings pitched as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the San Diego Padres 8-3 on Wednesday afternoon.
Weaver last pitched on May 16 against the Washington Nationals, leaving after four scoreless innings with a strained right shoulder that would keep him on the shelf for most of the summer.
An enthusiastic Weaver exclaimed “we’re back baby” to reporters in a Zoom call after the game.
“It was really good, battling a little bit of that nervous energy this morning waking up and just kind of settling in back into the routine,” Weaver said.
“Once you get back out there and throw that first pitch, you kind of get into the flow of things and it all just kind of just comes back together.”
San Diego had four hits against Weaver in his return, including a home run by Trent Grisham, while the 28-year-old right hander struck out three and walked none.
“It was a great outing,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said via Zoom. “He was just filling up the strike zone and making pitches.
“It was a lot of hard work, a lot of grinding days that led him to today and he deserves so much of the credit for making sure that he was ready.”
Weaver was extremely economical with his pitches as he ended the day with only 79 pitches, 51 of which were strikes.
“Everything seemed to be working for him,” Lovullo said. “It was clicking and he stood on his fastball from time to time and he knew where everything was going today.
“It was a special day for him, good to have him back.”
His highest pitch count in an inning came in the sixth when Weaver tossed 17 pitches, his final frame on the mound and the inning when the Padres finally broke through on the scoreboard.
It has been an up and down season for Weaver on the bump, pitching 10.1 scoreless innings before going on the injured list but giving up 17 runs in 17.0 innings across four starts prior to that.
He began the season only allowing three runs in two starts while pitching 12.2 innings, one of which was seven innings of scoreless ball against the Cincinnati Reds.
Weaver’s time overall in the desert could also be considered a rollercoaster since coming over from the St. Louis Cardinals with Carson Kelly and Andrew Young in the deal for Paul Goldschmidt prior to the 2019 season.
He put up a 2.94 ERA across 12 starts in his first season with the club but missed most of that season with a right forearm strain. He followed that up by struggling to a 6.58 ERA in 12 starts during the coronavirus-shortened season last year.
“With him going out there and throwing with the effectiveness that he had today, I think he internally is answering a lot of questions about where he is at and that’s the most pleasing thing because we know what he can do when he’s healthy,” Lovullo said.
“It seemed like he was a very healthy version of himself today and we want that to continue because we’re trying to build into a very successful month that’s going to obviously be a catalyst for a very successful 2022.”
The D-backs offense was able to support Weaver in his first start back, hanging a six-spot on the Padres and opposing pitcher Yu Darvish in the third inning.
Pavin Smith had an RBI double and later came around to score on a wild pitch, Josh VanMeter slugged a two-run home run and Nick Ahmed added an RBI double.
Josh Rojas capped the frame with an RBI single that scored Weaver who reached on an error from Padres third baseman Manny Machado.
Arizona added another two runs in the eighth inning. VanMeter walked with the bases loaded to score Ketel Marte while Smith came home on a double play by Daulton Varsho.
The D-backs bullpen preserved the win for Weaver, his first since May 10 and third this year.
J.B. Wendelken and Tyler Clippard tossed scoreless frames after Noe Ramirez gave two runs back to the Padres on a home run by Wil Myers.
After a day off Thursday, the D-backs host the Seattle Mariners for three games beginning at 6:40 p.m. on Friday. Madison Bumgarner is scheduled to toe the rubber and all the action can be heard on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.