Ryan Weber presents Red Sox with a nice surprise

Rob Bradford
May 23, 2019 - 3:37 pm

TORONTO -- Raise your hand if you saw this coming ... Didn't think so.

Ryan Weber gives off the appearance of some sort of major league novice, offering the image of a contest winner or professional baseball-playing passerby. He is 28 years old with the looks of someone much younger. And watching him throw a baseball does nothing to suggest the righty should have had 27 big league appearances under his belt heading into Thursday afternoon.

But there he was, giving the kind of performance the most experienced (and tall) big league pitchers would kill for. Six innings. One run. His second major league win.

All of it allowed the Red Sox to claim an 8-2 win over the Blue Jays, their third victory in four tries at Rogers Centre this week. It was a nice surprise for a team needing every step forward it can muster heading into series with Houston, Cleveland and the team it started the day 5 1/2 games in back of, the Yankees. (For a complete recap of the Red Sox win, click here.)

"Amazing, he did a good job, changing speeds, moving the ball around the strike zone, changing eye level," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "He can pitch. He and Christian (Vazquez), they were on the same page today, they went over that lineup, they did an outstanding job. It’s different. Like I said before the game, it’s not that vertical attack, as opposed to breaking balls down it’s more about east-west, changing speeds, kind of like delivered old-school. We’re very pleased with the way he went about it and it was a great all-around game."

"Just giving the team the chance to win and saving the bullpen was really my main goal," Weber said. "I’m excited and proud about what I did."

Weber, the 658th overall pick in the 2009 draft, has done this before.

In 2015, while pitching for the team that drafted him, the Braves, he turned in two starts in which he allowed one run over seven innings. One of them was a showdown with Washington ace Stephen Strasburg, with Weber taking the loss despite striking out 10.

"To strikeout 10 guys in a big league game, especially coming from a guy who doesn't strike guys out ... And that was my first year in the big leagues. It proved to myself I could be a big league starter," Weber explained regarding that showdown with Stasburg. "I have the same pitches. Just over the past three years, knowing what I do and my strengths, and not giving into the hitter."

But since that 2015 season, the soft-throwing righty only made three major league starts, with his most recent one before Thursday coming at Rogers Centre almost exactly two years ago. (He left that game with nerve injury.)

There were two games with the Rays last season, and the three previous relief outings as a Red Sox this year. But most of his visits to the major leagues represented some sort of stopgap. That certainly wasn't the feel he exhibited this time around.

None of Weber's 93 pitches topped 90 mph, yet none of the Blue Jays batters managed a hit measuring an exit velocity of better than 99 mph.

Steve Pearce seems to be breaking out of his season-long slump a bit, coming away with three hits including a two-run homer in the ninth. It was his first home run of the season. The righty hitter -- who got the start in left field -- is now hitting .171, having claimed hits in each of his last four games. The Red Sox also got multiple-hit days from Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Eduardo Nunez and Jackie Bradley Jr.