Landen Roupp

Roupp shows potential with eye-opening performance in Giants' loss

NBC Universal, Inc.

LOS ANGELES — With no roster moves in the morning and his ace getting ready to take the mound, Giants manager Bob Melvin's pregame session with reporters was quick and to the point. Nearly all of it was spent discussing leadoff hitter Jung Hoo Lee, who had singled twice on his first night at Dodger Stadium. Melvin marveled at how poised the rookie has been.

"I haven't seen anything affect Jung Hoo at this point," Melvin said.

Lee's opening weekend was filled with highlights, but it's a little bit different when you look comfortable at Dodger Stadium. The stage is as big as any in the sport, with bright lights, the league's loudest speakers and celebrities dotting the seats behind the plate. Their lineup is filled with star power, too.

Lee looked like he belonged on Monday night. Twenty four hours later, another Giants rookie loudly announced his presence.

The Giants lost 5-4, but Landen Roupp provided two stable innings after a short and stressful start from Logan Webb. The highlight was a gorgeous curveball that froze Mookie Betts -- who might be the game's best player right now -- and left the superstar walking back to the dugout with a grimace across his face.

"What is he hitting, like, .600? And it doesn't look like he has taken a bad swing this year," Melvin said of Betts, who entered the night at .520 and then homered off Webb's changeup. "The last pitch buckled him a little bit."

The curve to Betts was the showstopper, but a strikeout of Max Muncy might have been more impressive. Roupp fell behind 2-0, then flipped back-to-back curveballs to even the count. He went to the well one more time and Muncy swung over the top of a low curveball.

Roupp threw 43 pitches overall and 25 of them were curveballs. He's the only Giants pitcher in the last decade to throw at least 25 curveballs while throwing fewer than 50 pitches overall.

"It's really just a feel pitch for me and I can throw it to both sides of the plate and I just have so much confidence in it whenever I really want it," Roupp said. "It definitely helps me while I'm out there to know I have that in the back pocket."

Asked if he knew anything about Muncy's career numbers against the Giants, Roupp smiled and said he had no idea. Sometimes it's better not to know, but he has the look of someone who will be around long enough to become intimately familiar with this rivalry.

Roupp was a starter in the minors and the Giants might have a chance to stretch him back out next spring, but their rotation should be a strength this season, and the bullpen needs help. After a rocky start to the season, Roupp, Taylor Rogers and Ryan Walker shut down the league's most intimidating lineup, but the Giants could not complete the comeback after Webb put them in an early hole.

Roupp was the one to take over for Webb. Two innings later, with two on and Shohei Ohtani walking to the plate, Melvin came to get the ball. He gave it to Rogers, who won the left-on-left matchup on one pitch, but when he got back to the dugout, Melvin had a message for Roupp.

Melvin sees a young pitcher gaining confidence with every outing. He told him that down the line, he'll let him attack Ohtani, too.

"I really appreciate him saying that," Roupp said. "Obviously I understand the situation and bringing in another guy, but yeah, I look forward to staying in there next time and competing."

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