SAN FRANCISCO — It was Logan Webb Day Tuesday at Sierra Elementary School in Rocklin.
Should Webb, 24, beat the Los Angeles Dodgers Thursday night in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, his level of fame will go well beyond Placer County.
You could make the case that in terms of interest, intensity and the opponent, Webb is pitching the biggest game in the history of Oracle Park.
If he beats the Dodgers and pitches the Giants into the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves, there’s liable to be a statue in his likeness someday outside the ballpark.
Not that there’s any pressure or anything.
“I feel like I just like these types of moments,” Webb said Wednesday at a news conference before a Giants workout. “I love the crowd. I love the pressure. I’m excited to throw tomorrow, especially because I’ve got a guy back there (in Buster Posey) that’s always calm. Even if I do get a little up, he’ll be the first one to tell me to bring it back down.”
Based on Webb’s overall body of work and especially his last two starts, the Giants have to like their chances with the NLDS tied 2-2. Back on May 7, Webb gave up six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings on the road to Colorado and saw his record fall to 1-3. He hasn’t lost since, finishing the regular season 11-3 with a 3.03 earned run average.
Webb beat the San Diego Padres 11-4 to close out the regular season and give the Giants the division title over the Dodgers — and he even hit a home run in the clinching game. He struck out eight in seven innings. Then, in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, Webb was even better, scattering five hits in 7 2/3 innings with no walks and 10 strikeouts.
At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds with a wicked two-seam fastball that runs inside to right-handed batters plus a slider and change-up, Webb is pitching in a manner that belies his age and experience level.
“I can’t say he’s pitched a Game 5 in a division series, but he’s pretty battle-tested in other ways,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “I think he can lean on some of that experience he’s had and definitely trust himself because of the success he’s had to date.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts thought his team wasn’t patient enough and chased too many pitches out of the strike zone in Game 1, but acknowledged that plate discipline is easier said than done given Webb’s skillset.
“He’s got really good stuff. The ball has a lot of action,” Roberts said. “When he’s right, he has really good command, and even when he’s not, the ball kind of moves a lot.”
Through all the success, Webb’s demeanor hasn’t changed.
“He’s a big goofball who shows up with a big, goofy smile on his face every day, in a good mood,” outfielder Mike Yastrzemski said. “No moment alters that, whether it’s a big one, whether it’s a small one.”
Webb undergoes a transformation on days he pitches, fueled by three cans of the energy drink Red Bull — one when he arrives at the field, one when he stretches and one after his warmup. Webb acknowledged it as a bad habit and said he and his brother started doing it in travel ball, cautioning “don’t be mad at my dad or mom.”
Even with all the caffeine, Webb remains friendly and approachable.
“I’ve been around some pretty good, high-quality, Hall of Fame-caliber pitchers who on their start days are just really difficult to have a conversation with and there are some pitchers everybody in the clubhouse knows, you just stay away from them on the day they start,” Kapler said. “But that’s not Logan Webb.”
Webb takes no offense at Yastrzemski’s characterization of him as a “goofball” and in fact applies it to himself.
“I’m always a goofball,” Webb said. “I tried to do the ‘not talk to anybody’ thing. You hear about these guys and I think it’s kind of stupid. I can’t do that. I’ve got to talk to people, laugh, smile, keep it light.”
Once Webb is actually on the mound, it’s a different story, as his screams and fist-pumps demonstrated after getting some big outs in his Game 1 masterpiece. The puppy dog becomes a pit bull.
“I definitely think when I’m on the mound, I’m not really like that,” Webb said. “I’m kind of locked in. You see me yelling at myself all the time. But as soon as I get off the mound and in the dugout, I might be mad for a couple of seconds but then I want to talk to the pitching coaches, talk to Kap and Buster.”
Webb assumes Rocklin will be jumping Thursday night.
“I’m sure it will be awesome,” Webb said. “It’s real cool to see the support from my city, I got to see pictures of Logan Webb Day at my elementary school. They were all wearing Giants stuff.”
One more win will bring Webb and the Giants one step closer to a parade — in Rocklin and San Francisco.
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Author: Jerry McDonald