ATLANTA — At the end of the 2019 season, the Giants celebrated Bruce Bochy’s swan song by giving the manager a long list of prospects and minor league journeymen to audition for roles with future clubs that might one day contend again.
The vast majority of those players didn’t stick around, but a 22-year-old right-hander who overcame some brutal outings to show off all his immense potential did.
Two years after holding an eventual 97-win Braves team to one run in the best start of his major league career, Logan Webb returned to Atlanta as the Giants’ emerging ace and proved that performance was not a fluke.
With seven scoreless innings against a first-place Braves team on Saturday, Webb led the Giants (84-45) to a 5-0 win –the team’s 15th shutout victory– as he put the finishing touches on a National League Pitcher of the Month campaign.
Tommy La Stella hit a first-inning home run, Mike Yastrzemski launched his team leading 21st homer and added a RBI double, but when Webb pitches, the spotlight tends to belong to him.
Saturday was no different.
When Webb last pitched at Truist Park in 2019, he was a rookie with a 6.51 ERA who appeared mostly overwhelmed in his brief stint in the big leagues. The right-hander was a work in progress at the time, but the first quality start of his career gave the Giants an indication he possessed the mentality and what Bochy termed the “equipment,” (often referred to as “stuff”) to succeed in the major leagues.
With his seventh consecutive quality start for a Giants club that’s streaking toward the postseason, Webb may have a new “best start of his major league career,” and San Francisco has a starter no opposing lineup wants to see right now.
“That was a special moment for me in ’19,” Webb said. “And I was just happy I didn’t get to pitch the day game again.”
With his 13th consecutive start allowing two runs or fewer, Webb lowered his season ERA to 2.65 and now holds the longest such streak for a Giants pitcher since Ferdie Schoop held opponents to two runs or fewer in 16 straight starts for the New York Giants from 1916-1917.
The Giants won for the 12th time in Webb’s last 13 games and much of Saturday’s success can be attributed to Webb’s work in the middle innings.
The right-hander shouldn’t have been in a sixth-inning jam, but third baseman Wilmer Flores did him no favors early in the frame. After Freddie Freeman hit a groundball up the middle that tipped off Webb’s glove, a shifted Flores failed to charge the ball and his throw to first was too late to retire the reigning National League MVP.
The Giants starter picked up his teammate by inducing a potential 5-4-3 double play ball off the bat of the next hitter, Austin Riley, but Flores’ throw to La Stella at second base was wide and sailed into right field. With runners at the corners and no one out, Webb was at his best as he retired Dansby Swanson on a weak popup to shallow center field before catcher Travis d’Arnaud bounced into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
After the inning, Flores and Webb embraced in the dugout.
“He was the first person I wanted to see in the dugout and I think he was feeling the same way,” Webb said. “Honestly it was my fault on the first one. I went for the ball, I knew where he was playing and when I pulled away, it went off my glove. So I apologized for that one and he apologized for that one and said, ‘Thanks for picking me up.’ Flo is my guy.”
Flores felt the same way.
“I just told him ‘Way to pick me up,’ he did a great job in that inning,” Flores said. “You can just see it out there, he’s tough and he’s just great.”
The sequence highlighted all the progress Webb has made in his young career as he’s matured from a pitcher who was rattled by the slightest bit of bad luck to an ace who can pitch around defensive miscues and bad bounces.
The Braves put pressure on Webb early as Atlanta advanced runners into scoring position in the first and third innings, but the youngest player on the Giants roster didn’t crack. Despite throwing 59 pitches through just three innings, Webb was able to work deeper into Saturday’s game thanks in large part to a three-pitch fourth inning.
After hitting Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud on the elbow with the first pitch of the frame, he got Adam Duvall to ground into a 4-6-3 double play before Braves center fielder Joc Pederson flew out to left fielder Alex Dickerson to end the inning.
According to Baseball Almanac, Webb joined Jon Gray of the Rockies, Phil Bickford of the Dodgers and Tyler Gilbert of the Diamondbacks as the only other major leaguers with three-pitch innings in 2021. Webb’s was also the first thrown by a Giant since Madison Bumgarner retired the Padres on three pitches in the third inning of a 3-2 San Francisco win on August 14, 2010.
Webb pitched with a lead from the moment he took the mound as La Stella hit a line drive into the right field seats off Braves starter Huascar Ynoa in the first inning. The Giants added on again in the third when Webb doubled and scored on a La Stella sacrifice fly, but didn’t take a comfortable lead until the eighth when first baseman Darin Ruf and Yastrzemski each drove in runs with two-out hits.
Go to Source
Author: Kerry Crowley