Logan Webb

Giants get big win after ‘kind of embarrassing' first two games vs. LA

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SAN FRANCISCO -- It was a move that just about nobody noticed, especially once it became clear that an injury wasn't the reason it was made. Before the bottom of the eighth inning on Tuesday night, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled star shortstop Mookie Betts, opting for a couple innings of rest on a night when his team would go on to win 10-2

The game ended up being a blowout, but at the time the Dodgers only led 6-1, with six more outs to get. The message to the Giants was subtle, but clear: "We don't think you guys can make this close enough to make me regret pulling my leadoff hitter."

Roberts was right, of course. Lately, the Giants have struggled to get to three runs most nights, let alone six. The gap between these two franchises perhaps never has seemed wider, and it made all the sense in the world for Roberts to take advantage, knowing that the lead was very, very safe. 

It was a minor move to get a superstar off his feet for 20 minutes. But it was one that Logan Webb certainly noticed. After a 4-1 win on Wednesday, the first this year against the Dodgers, he admitted that the Giants were "kind of embarrassed" after the previous two games.

"We lost five [games] to them already and they're pulling guys in the eighth inning that weren't hurt yesterday when it was a five-run game. It was kind of embarrassing," he said. "I think we all felt that and we wanted to just get out here and do our thing and prove to ourselves that we're better than what we showed the first two games and better than what we showed this whole season."

The Giants have actually kept it pretty close in most of these losses, but overall they have seemed outclassed by the Dodgers, who already are running away with what has been a surprisingly uncompetitive National League West race. The loss on Tuesday dropped the Giants to 10 games out in the middle of May, but while the division title is long gone, they still have a lot to play for. 

Just about nothing has gone right over the last month, and even with Wednesday's win, the Giants are five games under .500. But they also are just 1.5 games out of the final MLB playoff spot in the National League, where only a third of the teams are above .500. There is a lot left to play for, and it wouldn't take much for the Giants to turn this all around. 

That added some extra importance to Wednesday's game, especially with their ace going up against a Triple-A call-up. 

Webb did his part, overcoming a 32-pitch first inning to get through six shutout frames. With Ryan Walker unavailable, young relievers Sean Hjelle and Erik Miller helped get the lead to Camilo Doval, who mixed filthiness with uneasiness while recording the save with the tying run at the plate. 

As he walked up to an interview backdrop in the clubhouse a few minutes later, Webb smiled and waited for loud music to be shut off. He noted that it was nice to hear music in the clubhouse, and he didn't shy away from how big the victory was. 

"There [aren't] many much-needed wins early in the season, but I thought tonight was a much-needed win," he said. "Hopefully this just gets us going."

The win came on the final night of a stretch of 16 consecutive games. The Giants lost 10 of them, and seemingly half their roster to injuries, but they actually were coming off two straight series wins when the Dodgers walked into Oracle Park. Manager Bob Melvin noted that Wednesday morning felt like "doomsday" after just a couple of losses, but that's the reality against the Dodgers, especially when their fans take over your home park. That added a bit more importance in the finale for Melvin, too. 

"It's a really good experience for some of our younger guys," he said. "[Heliot] Ramos gets another big hit, [Luis] Matos gets another big hit, obviously there was [Mike Yastrzemski's] home run. There are important wins over the course of the season. Early on, this was probably one of them."

The Giants finally will get a day to rest, and they're hopeful the momentum carries over. When they take the field Friday, Jorge Soler should be back in the lineup. Blake Snell will make a rehab appearance in Sacramento at the same time, and he'll be back on the next road trip. 

A minor move made earlier Wednesday already is paying dividends. Melvin said Curt Casali just had "an aura about him," and the 35-year-old reached base twice in his first game back and had an excellent night defensively. Webb was pitching to Casali for the 18th time, and he actually has a lower ERA with the veteran than with anyone else who has regularly caught him. He couldn't hide his excitement when he was alerted of the move, texting Casali late Tuesday night. 

"Curt is probably one of my favorite teammates that I've ever had," Webb said. "I was super excited. He's a true pro and he's really great back there. He calls a great game and it was just great to see him, first of all, and then obviously he did a great job like he always does."

Casali was in the minors with the Chicago Cubs when the Dodgers rocked Webb last month, but he changed things up Wednesday, throwing more elevated fastballs and trying to get in on their hands. There is no approach that is bulletproof against this lineup, and even on a good night, Webb was one hit away from the first inning spinning out of control. 

But he battled. He got a two-run blast from Yastrzemski and a robbery from Matos. He found a way to put up six zeroes and came away with his fourth win. This one might have been the most important one of the year. 

"I just wanted to go out there and give it all I could," Webb said. "Luckily it turned out the way it did." 

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