Weber makes good 1st impression for Atlanta
PHILADELPHIA -- As Ryan Weber spent this summer producing impressive statistics, he began to wonder why he was being overlooked when so many of his Triple-A Gwinnett teammates were routinely being given auditions as members of Atlanta's ever-changing pitching staff.
So when Weber gained the opportunity he long awaited on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park, he carried a little extra motivation with him to the mound. A few hours later, the seemingly forgotten 25-year-old pitcher stood in front of his locker and had reason to be proud of what he did while making his Major League debut in a 5-0 loss to the Phillies.
"Yeah, I did have a little chip on my shoulder because I knew I could compete here and play well," Weber said. "Finally, when they called me and said you're coming up, I knew I had to go out there and do what I've been doing all season."
Given that Weber had never previously participated in big league Spring Training with the Braves, there were not too many in attendance who knew much more than the fact that he had produced a 2.35 ERA in the 38 appearances (nine starts) he had combined to make for Double-A Mississippi and Gwinnett this season.
But as he consistently displayed an effective sinker while limiting the Phillies to two runs and four hits over six innings, he certainly made a good first impression. He induced 11 groundouts, including a pair of double plays, and needed just 76 pitches to complete this efficient debut.
"He threw the ball over the plate," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "For it being his first start in the Major Leagues, I don't think he was worried about anything. I was really impressed. I thought he did a great job for us and gave us an opportunity to win the game.
Weber faced the minimum through the first three innings and did not allow a hit until Cesar Hernandez doubled to begin the fourth inning. Hernandez advanced to 3rd on a single by Odubel Herrera, and scored on a double play.
Andres Blanco would open the bottom of the fifth with a triple and jogged home when Brian Bogusevic followed with a single.
Instead of allowing himself to be frustrated by the results, Weber induced another double play.
"That's pretty much what I've been doing all season, relying on my sinker," Weber said. "For the most part, it was down tonight."
Though he spent most of this season being utilized as a reliever, Weber made a start in each of his final three appearances for Gwinnett. He learned he was getting the call to the Majors this past weekend and spent the past couple of days mentally preparing himself for this opportunity that eluded him throughout the summer.
Now, Weber will have to prepare for the greater challenge that he will encounter when he starts Sunday afternoon's game against the National League East-leading Mets at Turner Field.
"It's my first outing and I don't want to get too excited," Weber said. "But it was definitely a great experience."