Webb does MadBum impersonation as Giants clinch division originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — A decade ago, when Logan Webb was trying to lead a junior baseball All-Star team through the Western Regionals in Irvine, Calif., Erik Webb got a call from the team’s coach. He and his pitcher had disagreed on how the team should handle the rotation. Logan’s team was set to face a team from Idaho in the semifinals, but Logan wanted to be saved for the championship game.
“He told his coach, ‘Don’t waste me now,'” Erik Webb recalled Sunday afternoon.
It took a while for Logan Webb to get to a day like Game 162 at Oracle Park. He did not end up pitching that championship game in Irvine, and he joined the Giants when the franchise was in a rut. But on Sunday afternoon, in a game the Giants absolutely had to win to clinch the National League West, Webb did get that call.
The Giants have had Webb lined up for this final start for weeks, and when the 24-year-old jogged out to the mound at 12:05 p.m., he looked right at home. Webb struck out the side in the first inning, and as he strutted off the mound he had a hint of a small smile on his face. Erik Webb wasn’t surprised as he watched his son lead the Giants to an 11-4 win over the Padres.
“He wants this,” he said afterward. “He wants to be in the big spot.”
The Giants knew Logan Webb, one of best pitchers in baseball since May, would give them what they needed on the mound. What they could not have expected was that he would do a Madison Bumgarner impersonation in the biggest game at Oracle Park in five years.
It wasn’t just that Webb hit a two-run homer, the first of his career. It was the way he went about his business. He looked back at Padres right-hander Dinelson Lamet when an inside pitch nearly caught him on the hand as he squared to bunt, and then he stepped back in the box, took two more hacks, and drew a walk that kept the line moving. He wore a flat expression on the mound, but a pleased smile with every run he scored and scoreless inning he finished.
Webb is the youngest member of the rotation, but on Sunday, he was the one who set the tone for the 107-win Giants.
“I think we, as a group, needed that boost of confidence coming off of yesterday’s loss, that somebody was going to step up and say, ‘Climb on my back and I’ll do the work,'” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Logan really did that.”
The win that clinched the first division title in San Francisco since 2012 ended up being a blowout, but there was some anxiety on Saturday night as Kapler watched the Dodgers beat the Brewers to assure that Sunday’s games would be meaningful. He was confident in Webb, but there were reasons for concern when the Giants came to the park Sunday.
The lineup had not hit up to its usual standards all homestand. The defense clearly was missing Brandon Belt’s glove at first. The bullpen was gassed, and while he didn’t want to make it known to the Padres, Kapler wasn’t sure if he could use young right-hander Camilo Doval, who had pitched four of the previous five games and warmed up the other night.
There were ways this day could have gotten away from the Giants. And then Webb stepped on the rubber and struck out the side in the first, throwing 95 mph with the same vertical break as Kevin Gausman’s splitter.
“When he’s on, he’s as good as anybody is,” catcher Buster Posey said. “With his sinker, he can get through a lineup with not very many pitches, and we saw that today. I was interested to see if he was going to be over-amped. Sometimes when a sinker-baller is too hyped it will flatten out on him a little bit, but it was clear pretty early on that he had depth on it.”
Webb pitched into the eighth, and while he was charged with four earned runs, that doesn’t at all tell the story of his day. With the Giants leading 11-1 in the eighth, Webb went back out to try and give the bullpen a bit more rest. The Padres briefly rallied, but that didn’t take any of the shine off this day.
Allowing one run over the first seven innings would have been more than enough, but Webb wasn’t done. He had made no secret of the fact that he desperately wanted a home run in the big leagues, and with the Giants pulling away in the fifth, Webb got a changeup over the heart of the plate and smoked it out to left.
The blast was Webb’s first since high school, and it made up for a similar attempt in August smacking off the wall 399 feet away from the plate. Webb laughed after the game and said the homer was “way more important” than anything else he did Sunday. Perhaps most importantly, it gave him bragging rights over Kevin Gausman, who hit a walk-off sac fly in September.
“He was telling me he watches that video of his walk-off every single day,” Webb said. “The first thing I did is I came in (the dugout) and said, ‘You know how you watch your walk-off? I’m going to watch my home run every single day.'”
Webb will have at least four days to replay the clip. The win Sunday, which came a few minutes before the Dodgers beat the Brewers to finish at 106 wins, guaranteed that the Giants would have time to rest and wait for the winner of the NL Wild Card Game. They will host either the Dodgers or the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, but Kapler wasn’t ready to say which way he was leaning between Webb and Gausman for Game 1.
RELATED: Muncy ‘unlikely’ for NLDS if Dodgers advance to face Giants
Regardless of when he does start, it’s abundantly clear Webb will be ready. Erik Webb said his son had been waiting for this day since he was five years old, and Logan certainly made the most of it. He called it the best day of his career, and then he paused and smiled.
“So far,” he added.