The three healthy full-time members of the Giants starting rotation have a combined 27 years of major league service time, but it’s a rookie right-hander who’s emerged as the staff anchor in 2020.
Logan Webb hasn’t only proven he’s capable of holding down a starting job, he’s quickly become most valuable pitcher on the staff as he’s now responsible for ending three separate losing streaks for the Giants.
The Rocklin, Calif. native ended a 12-game winless streak for Giants starters as he earned the victory with five innings of two-run ball against the red-hot Colorado Rockies.
Rockies star Nolan Arenado homered for the third straight game, but it was a three-run home run from Giants first baseman Brandon Belt that proved to be the biggest hit of the night in a 4-3 win that snapped San Francisco’s longest losing steak of the young season at three games.
With Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija struggling to miss bats with their fastball and newcomer Kevin Gausman giving up too much hard contact early in the season, Webb has become the team’s most reliable starter through the first 20% of the schedule.
Webb only needed 68 pitches to record 15 outs as he racked up four strikeouts without walking a hitter, which is the stat that will make both the pitcher and his manager, Gabe Kapler, happier than any others from the start.
Giants relievers Caleb Baragar, Tony Watson, Tyler Rogers and Trevor Gott combined to finish off the game, with Gott earning his third save of the season.
Webb’s four-seam fastball velocity sat between 93 and 94 miles per hour for much of the night and he paired the pitch with an excellent changeup that fooled a handful of Rockies hitters. His best sequence of the night came in the fourth inning when he stole strike one against Rockies slugger Charlie Blackmon with a perfect two-seam fastball on the outside corner, induced a hearty swing-and-miss with a changeup that dropped below the zone before freezing Blackmon with a backdoor slider that curled from the right-handed batter’s box back to the outer inches of the plate.
Webb even proved he could handle Arenado, who hit the 31st homer of his career against the Giants against Tony Watson to cut San Francisco’s edge from 4-2 to 4-3 in the seventh. With Webb on the mound, Arenado bounced into a 6-4-3 double play and also hit a looping line drive that shortstop Brandon Crawford snared with a leap.
Belt opened the season 2-for-14 at the plate, but his fortunes changed against a pitcher he’s had plenty of success against during his career. The Giants first baseman was 8-for-21 with four extra-base hits off of Rockies starter Jon Gray entering Wednesday’s game and gave his club a 3-2 lead with a towering home run that landed in the first row of the right field bleachers.
Belt’s 46-degree launch angle on his 373-foot home run marked his highest-ever on a homer dating back to 2015, when Statcast began tracking launch angle. It bested his previous high of 43.7 degrees set on July 21, 2018 on a home run hit against Trevor Cahill, who is training at the Giants’ alternate camp and could soon join the team’s pitching staff after dealing with a fingernail injury that kept him off the Opening Day roster.
The Giants didn’t score again until the sixth inning, when Belt came to the plate with two outs and no one on against Gray who had appeared to settle into a rhythm. With a double into the right center field gap, Belt put himself in scoring position and didn’t have to wait long to come home as second baseman Wilmer Flores drove the first pitch he saw into left center for a RBI single.
Belt’s double was the 232nd of his Giants career, moving him into a tie with Rich Aurilia for the ninth-most doubles in the club’s San Francisco-era history. Pablo Sandoval, the team’s designated hitter Wednesday, is eighth with 234.
Flores became the first player to receive a multi-year deal from Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who brought the former Mets and D’backs infielder to San Francisco because of his impressive career numbers in National League West parks.
Flores batted a career-high .317 for the D’backs last season and after his single to drive in Belt, his average in 13 games with the Giants improved to an identical .317.
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Author: Kerry Crowley