"When things are going this well, for me, the thought is automatically, 'What can I do better?'" the Cardinals' rookie right-hander said Wednesday after picking up his seventh consecutive victory during a 9-2 win over Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park. "It's easy to just ride a streak and not spend time honing things like you need to. I want to make sure those mistakes don't happen. If they do, and things speed up, I want to be able to slow them down before they get away from me."
Things have rarely gotten away from Weaver (7-1, 2.05 ERA) recently. He has earned a win in each of his last seven starts, the longest streak by a St. Louis pitcher since Matt Morris in 2001, and the longest by a St. Louis rookie since Ted Wilks in 1944. He came into the game tied for the longest win streak among MLB pitchers.
"He's been terrific," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the 24-year-old right-hander. "He was able to use his curveball better tonight than in any of his other starts. The fastball was coming out of his hand as good as we've seen it. We are going to give him [more] opportunities to go out there and do what he's been doing."
What Weaver has been doing is keeping his club in postseason contention. Earlier Wednesday, San Francisco shut out Colorado, 4-0, to put the Cardinals 2 1/2 games back of the Rockies for the second National League Wild Card spot. Milwaukee also lost to Pittsburgh, allowing third-place St. Louis to pull within 1 1/2 games of the second-place Brewers in the NL Wild Card and NL Central races.
Weaver worked five innings Wednesday, laboring at times (he threw 87 pitches), but holding down the Reds long enough for his team to grab a 7-0 lead entering the bottom of the fifth.
He ran into a little trouble in the first, when the Reds put together consecutive two-out singles. Weaver then struck out Adam Duvall on a 95-mph fastball to end the inning.
"I felt like more curveballs were in the mix tonight in different counts," Weaver said. "When you have a three-pitch mix, it makes it a little easier on you. I was able to reach back more and get a little higher velocity when I needed it."
Duvall was the first of 10 consecutive Cincinnati batters retired by Weaver until Jose Peraza's ledoff single in the fifth, followed by Patrick Kivlehan's RBI double. Weaver got two more outs, then Jesse Winker drove in another run with a hit to center field. That cut a 7-0 Cardinals lead to 7-2, but Zack Cozart lined out to end the inning and Weaver's work shift.
Weaver has been sensational since replacing an injured Adam Wainwright in the rotation. The rookie has allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of his eight starts. Over his last six starts, he has 49 strikeouts and four walks. Shelby Miller struck out 112 in his first 20 games with St. Louis, a club record. Weaver has 110.
Weaver beat the Reds for the second time in a week. He was also the pitcher of record in a 5-2 Cardinals victory over Cincinnati last Thursday.
"There are a lot of good nerves building up with every start," Weaver said. "It's awesome."