‘Really gritty' Webb earns MLB-leading fifth win for Giants


In his second game back on the active roster, Evan Longoria started the night at Busch Stadium on the bench. That gave him a chance to watch Logan Webb work his way through six innings, and as Longoria viewed the action and got ready for a pinch-hit at-bat in the eighth inning, he found himself thinking about how Webb was far from his best. 

That made what he did in an 8-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals all the more impressive. 

"I was thinking about it in the clubhouse after he came out of the game. I thought he probably had C-stuff, at best, tonight, but that's kind of what a true number one guy does," Longoria said. "He gives us six strong innings of one-run ball and pitches himself out of some jams and figures out a way to go out there and get deep into games and give us a chance to win."

Webb didn't have his best stuff or his usual command, but he allowed just three hits and one run before handing the ball, and a two-run lead, to the bullpen. His offense helped out with a five-run rally that blew the game open in the eighth, with Longoria's first hit of the year, a two-run double, the biggest blow. A few minutes later, Webb officially had his fifth victory in seven starts.

Webb set the bar sky-high last year with a five-month run in which he was possibly the best pitcher in the National League. He followed that up with two spectacular postseason appearances and he kicked off this season by winning on Opening Day and then going eight strong the next time out. Ever since, it has been a struggle, but you might not notice if you're not looking closely. 

Webb has admitted in recent weeks that he's not quite at his best physically, possibly the results of a short spring training that followed the longest year of his pitching life. But he has also won four straight starts. The Giants are 6-1 when he's on the mound, and he's the Majors' only five-game winner. 

After this win, manager Gabe Kapler called it a "really gritty performance by Logan." He had just one strikeout and got five swings-and-misses, but he also had eight outs on the ground and three pop-ups. He kept the Cardinals off-balance and twice got big double plays. 
Kapler spent part of Webb's night sitting next to Alex Wood on the dugout bench, discussing what he was seeing.

He said one of the things he's proudest of is how the veteran starters are helping the 25-year-old co-ace get through this period where he's not quite at his best. 

"I think this is a good time to call out how good Logan's teammates are, in particular the veteran pitchers who really understand what he's going through and the challenges he's facing, and appreciating what he's able to accomplish even without his best stuff, even without his best command," Kapler said. 

In that respect, Webb couldn't be in a better situation. Wood, Cobb and Carlos Rodón have all dealt with injury issues over their careers. Anthony DeSclafani is currently on the IL with ankle inflammation. They have all learned to think and feel their way through starts when they maybe didn't feel 100 percent, and Webb is now showing he can do that with the best of them. 

It was clear early that he still wasn't 2021 Webb. He opened the night by putting Tommy Edman in an 0-2 hole, but then walked him and threw a wild pitch. Edman scored the first run of the night on a groundout. In the second, Webb opened that inning's leadoff hitter, Dylan Carlson, with two strikes, but he walked him, too. A few seconds later, Webb got a double play. 

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The Giants are not at all worried about any long-term issues with Webb. He's just fighting it right now, but still finding a way to win games. Kapler admitted that part of what's going on right now is that the bar has been set extremely high, but that's what excites him about the future. 

"He's still growing and he's still learning the league and he's still learning himself," Kapler said. "He's 5-1, right? He's still pitching well. He's still giving us a chance to win every time he goes out there. It just makes you remember how good this guy really is and how fun it's going to be when he gets his best stuff back and he's just really filling up the strike zone."

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