SAN FRANCISCO – Logan Webb’s story the last two seasons is one of remarkable consistency.
He has made 39 starts since the beginning of 2021 and the Giants have won 30 of them. There have not been many duds, but on the other end, Webb is still searching for that first complete game.
Webb has hummed along for the last year, but there have been patches that more closely resemble a roller coaster if you zoom in enough. Two weeks ago in Philadelphia, Webb convinced Gabe Kapler to let him pitch the ninth and then gave up a game-tying homer to Kyle Schwarber. The next time out, Webb was pulled in the fifth, and he let it be known afterward that he wasn’t thrilled about the decision.
It could have gone a number of different directions, then, when Kapler walked out to the mound in the seventh inning to check with Webb. There were two on and one out and Webb was headed for a pitch count he had not previously seen, but Kapler liked the look in his eye, and he liked the way Webb was still throwing. He also got the right answer from Webb.
The staff’s ace stayed out there and got through the inning with a little help from Luis Gonzalez and Austin Wynns. Less than an hour later, the Giants had a 4-2 win over the Kansas City Royals, their fifth straight. It came with a career-high 112 pitches from Webb, who was thrilled with the opportunity.
“It was really cool,” he said. “(Kapler) trusts us a lot and we trust him. In a full season, there’s always going to be times when you don’t agree with something, and there were just a couple of times when we didn’t agree and that happens . But 99 percent of the time we agree and we get to do things like tonight. That’s what makes tonight so cool. We’ve got a cool relationship with all of us in this locker room, it’s not just the players, it’s the coaches as well.
“There was never trust lost or anything like that. There was just one time we didn’t agree and sometimes that happens. It’s bound to happen in a six-month season.”
The Giants have a long way to go, which is why Kapler is often so careful with his starters. But this was a night to push Webb, who allowed just five hits and struck out nine.
When Kapler went out to the mound – with Jarlin Garcia warming up in the bullpen – it was clear he didn’t want to make a move. He hesitated for a moment on the top step, looking back at his coaches. He gave Webb an opportunity to be open, and once again the young right-hander was.
“Obviously we had some help if we needed it so I kind of wanted to see if he was all present and able to have a good conversation, which he was. He was very calm and under control,” Kapler said. “He also said that his body felt great. I basically referenced that it wasn’t going to be just one hitter, so if he was good to go that he was going to get several hitters for us there. He gave me the assurance that he felt very confident that his body felt good, which was the number one thing, and then I felt confident he was going to get a ground ball or find his way out of that inning.
“He’s one of the few pitchers that we have, probably one of the few pitchers around baseball, that even as his pitch count rises, if he’s feeling really good and he’s able to stay in his delivery and continue to deliver strikes, that you feel like he’s still the best option you have even if you have fresh relievers in the pen. “
Of course, these decisions are often criticized when they backfire, and this one wasn’t all smooth sailing. Webb got a strikeout but then gave up a flare to the right that looked like it would bring a run across and cut the Giants’ lead to two. But Luis Gonzalez made a 97.4 mph throw from right and Austin Wynns scooped it perfectly before putting a deft tag down. The Giants were out of the inning.
“When I gave up the hit it was more like, ‘S *** I did it again. I gave up the run,'” Webb said, smiling. “And then he made the play and Austin had the great pick and got the guy out. It was just super exciting.”
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That final pitch put Webb a dozen clear of his previous season-high, and it was just the second time he has gone past 102 pitches in the big leagues. His previous high was 107, so this was the most Webb has ever thrown in his life. But, as always, he seemed ready for more.
“I’m sure I’ll be decently sore tomorrow, but to throw that many pitches, that’s kind of my job to do,” he said. “I’m excited to get that pitch count up. I told them afterwards that I could probably have given them more. I felt good enough to throw more, but there’s a lot of season left.”