Logan Webb

What we learned as Webb outduels Valdez in Giants' win over Astros

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SAN FRANCISCO -- After a series victory over the defending champion Texas Rangers on the road earlier this week, the Giants completed a different variation of the Texas Two-Step with a 5-3 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday at Oracle Park.

Logan Webb (W, 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 83 pitches) outdueled Astros left-handed pitcher Framber Valdez (L, 4 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, BB, 1 K, 59 pitches) in a high-profile matchup between two of baseball's best groundball pitchers.

In the series finale, the Giants' offense jumped on Valdez, scoring twice in the third and three more times in the fourth, while Webb cruised through six strong innings.

Here are three observations from the Giants' (34-35) win over the Astros (31-38):

Ground balls galore

Webb and Valdez have been the two best ground ball starting pitchers in baseball each of the last two seasons. In 2022, Valdez had an MLB-best 66.5-percent ground ball rate. Webb finished second at 56.5 percent. The two flip-flopped in 2023, with Webb taking the metric's crown with a 62.1-percent ground ball rate while Valdez finished second at 54.2 percent.

They are on a collision course again this season. Valdez missed time earlier in the season with elbow inflammation and hasn't pitched enough innings to qualify, but would lead MLB in ground ball percentage again at 63.9 percent. Webb (56.6 percent) currently is third behind Philadelphia's Cristopher Sanchez (62.7 percent) and Atlanta's Max Fried (60.9 percent), according to FanGraphs.

The two pitchers combined induced 16 ground-ball outs on Wednesday.

Better Slate than never

The Austin Slater the Giants have known and relied upon for so long was nowhere to be found at the beginning of the season.

After batting .103 in April, Slater missed most of May with a concussion after crashing into the center field wall in the Giants' loss to the Cincinnati Reds on May 10. He has looked more like himself lately in limited action and hit leadoff on Wednesday, collecting three hits and two RBI in five at-bats.

In the four games he has played since he was activated on June 3, Slater is 6-for-11 with three RBI. He has been a weapon off the Giants' bench for years and they certainly could use him right about now.

Shortstop platoon solidified?

With veteran shortstop Nick Ahmed nearing a return from the injured list, it has been rookie infielder Brett Wisely, not top prospect Marco Luciano nor fellow youngster Casey Schmitt, who has taken over as the everyday shortstop.

After homering in Tuesday's loss to the Astros, Wisely collected two more hits on Wednesday, raising his batting average to .317 on the season.

It's safe to say Wisely isn't going anywhere when Ahmed returns, and the two could provide manager Bob Melvin with an intriguing lefty/righty platoon at short.

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