Six days ago, he broke their hearts by pitching a gem, even hitting a home run against the San Diego Padres in the regular-season finale, to end the Dodgers’ eight-year reign as NL West champions.
Friday night, in front of a frenzied sellout crowd of 41,934 at Oracle Park, he made history in the Giants’ 4-0 victory against the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NL Division Series, the first postseason game between these two rivals.
“Honestly, it’s crazy to me that we’ve never played each other in the playoffs,’’ Webb said. “So to be a part of that is pretty cool to me.’’
Webb, who grew up in nearby Rocklin, pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings and struck out 10 batters, joining Jake Arrieta of the 2015 Chicago Cubs as the only pitcher in baseball history to strike out at least 10 batters without giving up a run.
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He is only the third pitcher in Giants history to perform that feat in any postseason start, joining Tim Lincecum in Game 1 of the 2010 NL Division Series and Madison Bumgarner in the 2014 wild-card game.
“It’s really cool,’’ said Webb, 24. “I feel like I keep saying this, but like you kind of dream of these moments growing up as a player. Just to be able to be a part of it, and do it, is something that’s special, for sure.’’
The Dodgers had a different adjective to describe it, none G-rated, muttering to themselves all night. They swung and missed a season-high 21 times.
“I think, to be quite honest, we didn’t make adjustments,’’ Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We just chased a lot when we shouldn’t have. If you don’t make adjustments, then they’re going to keep going to the well. I think the story is that we swung at a lot of balls out of the strike zone tonight.’’
Said Dodgers catcher Will Smith: “He had command of his slider, command of his changeup, and his sinker pretty good tonight. It kept us off balance. Threw a lot of off-speed pitches and just made his pitches.’’
It’s the kind of conversation normally reserved for the Dodgers’ own pitching staff. They were the ones who had the marquee starters lined up in this series. Roberts even spoke earlier in the day that it would be a tough choice for the Cy Young voters to decide between Dodger studs Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias.
Funny, but no one mentioned Webb.
He reminded everyone that he may belong in the same conversation. He has been as dominant as any pitcher in baseball since the opening month of the season. He yielded a 2.40 ERA since May 11, and in his last 20 starts, he went 10-0 without losing a single game in 20 consecutive starts.
“When he’s on,’’ says catcher Buster Posey, who hit a two-run homer in the first inning, “he’s as good as anybody. I think what’s impressive to me is for him being able to control the extra energy and nerves, not only in this game, but the last game of the season, and has really taken it up a notch.’’
And to think, Webb had to fight for his life just to make the Giants’ rotation this spring, believing in himself when others had doubts.
“He’s the same guy every single day,’’ Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski said. “He’s a big goofball who shows up with a big goofy smile on his face every day, in a good mood. No moment alters that, whether it’s a big one, whether it’s a small one.’’
The bigger the stakes, the greater the performance, and the way the Giants are playing these days, there’s no one they’d rather have on the mound in the World Series than Webb. If he keeps his composure, and pitches like he did Friday, they’ll take their chances against all of the big boys left in the field.
“It was the composure, it was the demeanor,’’ Giants manager Gabe Kapler said, when asked what was most impressive about Webb’s performance. “It was the poise and big stage, incredible atmosphere, and Webby just kind of channeled all of that into his performance tonight.’’
His only real blemish of the night came when he tried to pick up Corey Seager’s soft grounder in front of the mound in the fourth inning. He grabbed it with his bare hand, dropped it, kicked it and threw too late to first base.
If it happened a few months ago, Webb may have melted down, Kapler suggested, unable to control his composure. This time, all Webb did was scream, strike out Trea Turner and get Justin Turner to ground into an inning-ending double-play that will be on the Giants’ highlight reel with second baseman Tommy LaStella’s backhand flip.
“I was still pretty [angry],’’ Webb said. “I don’t know if you saw the video, I might have said something to myself.’’
It’s OK, because most of the evening, it was the Dodgers screaming into the night, watching their bottom four hitters go 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts.
“I’m so impressed with him,’’ said Dodgers outfielder Kris Bryant, who joined Posey and Brandon Crawford with solo home runs. “His first playoff experience and he was just out there pretending like it’s a game in the backyard. It was really fun to watch.’’
It was a night that could be etched in the Giants’ annals forever, the national coming-out party for Webb, and perhaps the dagger that could prematurely end the Dodgers’ season.
Follow Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Giants’ Logan Webb frustrates Dodgers in Game 1 of NLDS
Source: Yahoo Sports