Greek Giant

Logan Webb’s Season Launches

I was able to watch the last three innings of yesterday’s series-clinching 4-2 Giants win in Houston over the defending World Series Champion Astros. I was able to see Logan Webb’s last two innings of work, which were impressive, despite the two-run home run by Alex Bregman in the bottom of the eighth inning that made this one a close game. Webb had superb stuff as usual and was able to keep the Astro right-handers flailing at sinkers and sliders off the plate on the outside corner and loooooow in the zone. It is arguable whether or not he should have come out for the eighth inning after throwing seven shutout frames and about 100 pitches. But, I am not going to quibble with Gabe Kapler’s faith in his ace. I approve of it.

In that inning Webb walked the lead off hitter and then surrendered a single to Michael Tucker. The next batter, one Mauricio Dubon, hit into a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play that Estrada at short and Wisely at second executed to near perfection. Just like that it’s two outs and one on. Bregman followed with his moonshot and just like that the game was getting jittery for the Giants. By the way, if you want to see pure class watch Bregman’s homer. It was a bomb off the upper facing of the park. It was hit so hard that engineers would need to check the concrete for structural damage. Bregman took one look at it, dropped his head, and trotted around the bases. There was no bat flip, no theatrics, no hot dogging. That’s the way it’s done, boys and girls. Pure professionalism. Pure class. There is no need to go into celebration mode after every homer, especially when your team is losing. You can learn so much about a player and his character by his home run trot.

After the blast Kapler summoned Scott Alexander to face All-Universe hitter Yordan Alvarez.

Good morning.
Good afternoon.
Good night.

Alexander struck him out on three un-hittable sliders and that’s the way the inning ended. It was a key at bat in the game with two Astro runs in and a 3-2 game with the best Houston slugger at the plate. No problem for Alexander.

Webb’s lead was preserved and Camilo Doval pitched a scoreless ninth to seal the win and the second-straight victory in Houston and in a row for the Giants who had lost four straight prior to the game. Webb would earn his second win of the year with 7 2/3 innings allowing those two runs and striking out five Houstonians and allowing five hits and five walks.

Logan Webb is back. He was just about dominant and one could make a case that his 2-5 record does not reflect the quality of his season thus far. He has really only had two bad starts and could easily be 4-4 with a little luck. But that’s baseball and there is no whining or crying in baseball. His mission, as the Giants Defacto Ace (a role that Cobb and Desclafani are bidding for) is to win key games and be that guy who can defeat bigger, stronger teams.

Yesterday that Mission was Accomplished thanks in part to Logan Webb’s superb control on the mound and composure off it. It appears to me that we have Webb developing into a leader, right before our eyes. Often lost in the shuffle of an overly determined analytical or stat-based approach to baseball is the leadership and intangible aspect of a player’s value. Buster Posey had it in spades. Ditto Madison Bumgarner. On this Zaidi-built Giant team I would say that role is being filled by Yaz and Webb. It’s just a hunch.

Joey Bart may be in the running too.

The Giant Offense

It was a pitcher’s duel until the top of the sixth inning when the Giants plated two runs thanks to RBI singles by Austin Slater (remember him?) and Mitch Haniger. Until that frame Astro Ace Framber Valdez had allowed only two Giant hits and was matching Logan Webb’s zeroes.

Slater’s hit was a classic Austinesque opposite field inside-out liner that scored Joey Bart from second base with one out. The Giant catcher once again showed his base-running skills and athleticism by scoring on a play that could have been close if say Buster Posey or Wilmer Flores were running. Instead Bart scored standing up. These are the little things that Bart brings to his game that often get unnoticed. Another one is his ability to manage the pitchers, especially Camilo Doval, with the pitching clock winding down.

Two batters later with runners on first and third Mitch Haniger singled in Slater. The inning could have been much bigger but Valdez limited the damage.

Michael Conforto made this catch in the bottom of the seventh inning:

Joey Bart drove in the third run that proved to be the game-winner with a booming double off the wall in left. That hit came in the top of the seventh inning with Webb and the Giants clinging to a 2-0 lead.

The Giants added another run in the top of the ninth inning when Wilmer Flores lazer-beamed a rocket just over the high wall in left field on a curve ball or slider belt high. Wilmer has a sensationally quick bat. That dinger came off Astro phenom Bryan Abreu who in his short career of only 129 innings had allowed only seven homers until Wilmer’s blast.

Here is Wilmer’s Sizzling homer run:

How THE Giants Win in 2023

Let me summarize this game this way: The Giants took two of three on the road against the defending World Series Champs and beat their ace in the decisive game to do it. Despite their pedestrian, if not terrible 13-17 record, that’s an acchievement. It appears to me the Giants have found the secret formula to winning games in 2023: The starters have to go at least seven innings and pitch with the lead to avoid using the middle relief corps. The team has to play solid, if not perfect defense. The bats need to hit the occasional bomb mixed in with the odd single, stolen base and manufactured run. Those are your 2023 San Francisco Giants. If and when Alex Wood returns and becomes effective, that would make four solid starting pitchers with Webb, Cobb and Desclafani. That’s enough to get you to the playoffs if the above formula makes enough appearances from the Gabe Kapler-Farhan Zaidi laboratory.