SAN DIEGO -- After struggling in his Major League debut on April 10, Padres rookie pitcher Joe Wieland had considerably more success in his start against the Phillies on Thursday, as he allowed just one run over six innings, with seven strikeouts.
Part of the reason for the turnaround was that the 22-year-old was able to not only able to use his curveball more, but he was able to throw it for strikes early in the game.
"The biggest thing was I was throwing it for strikes," Wieland said. "The second you don't show that, you can throw it for strikes, they [opposing hitters] will lay off it. You have to get it in their heads."
That's probably why Wieland threw 13 curveballs in the first inning alone. He allowed his lone run on a curveball, a sacrifice fly by Jimmy Rollins.
Of the 99 pitches Wieland threw, 34 of them were curveballs. Eighteen of them went for strikes, with eight of the curveballs resulting in outs, including three strikeouts.
"I think his curve, if you were to grade the two pitches, is better than his slider," said Padres manager Bud Black, who said that Wieland throws a hard curveball with a 12-to-6 sharp tilt to it.
Black said that the abundance of curveballs might have had something to do with the guy calling them, catcher John Baker, who saw a lot of the Phillies during the last four seasons when he played for the Marlins.