First big league win 'indescribable' for Weaver

First big league win 'indescribable' for Weaver

ST. LOUIS -- After two weeks of occupying a spot on the Cardinals' roster, Luke Weaver finally got his chance on Friday to impress the home crowd. And quite the impression did he make.

With the best start yet of his budding career, Weaver pitched the Cardinals past the A's with a 3-1 victory that earned him a keepsake ball and icy postgame shower from his teammates as a congratulatory gesture for picking up his first career win.

"Indescribable" was how the right-hander tried to describe all that the night meant afterward.

This was a win he did plenty to earn, as Weaver lasted a career-best six innings while limiting the A's to four hits. He was not rattled by Yonder Alonso's second-inning solo homer, and he held the A's hitless in three chances with runners in scoring position. Weaver's final inning may have been his best, too, as he recorded three groundball outs on 13 pitches to cap a 95-pitch night.

"That's a great sign that he is trusting his stuff more," manager Mike Matheny said of Weaver's seven groundball outs. "Today was just a great step in the right direction."

Along with the groundballs came seven strikeouts, the most by a Cardinal in one of his first three Major League starts since PJ Walters struck out seven in an April 17, 2009, game against the Cubs. Weaver also became the sixth Cardinals player since 1913 to strike out seven in his home debut.

"[He] doesn't throw 100 mph, but commands his fastball, has a good curveball, a good changeup that he throws to both lefties and righties," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of the Cardinals' No. 2-ranked prospect. "I'm sure they're pretty excited about him. He's got good stuff."

Weaver showed flashes of intriguing potential while starting in Chicago and Philadelphia, but he had also nibbled a bit. Weaver attributed that to giving too much credit to hitters at this level. He showed more assertiveness on Friday and set that tone with strikeouts of Coco Crisp and Stephen Vogt to bookend a 1-2-3 first inning.

He noted, too, that his mechanics fell in check as his heartbeat did.

"You get amped up and excited out there and things start to go a little faster," Weaver said. "You're just trying to slow down the game and stay within yourself. That's a big part of what happened."

With Michael Wacha on the disabled list and Mike Leake suddenly sidelined by shingles, the Cardinals will continue to count on Weaver as they continue to fight for a place in the postseason.

"I couldn't have told you I was going to get to this moment [this year], but obviously we prepare for it and this is where we want to be," Weaver said. "I'm just going to enjoy it and be a contributor to this ballclub."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.