Fresh off a series victory over the Los Angeles Angels, the San Francisco Giants welcomed the Arizona Diamondbacks to Oracle Park for their first matchup of the season.
Backed by a dominant start from rookie Logan Webb (7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BBs, 8 Ks), and key home runs from Evan Longoria (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBIs) and Wilmer Flores (2-for-3, HR, 2 RBIs), the Giants claimed game one of the three-game series with a 6-2 Friday night win.
This weekend series should have been former Giant Madison Bumgarner’s return to Oracle Park. Unfortunately, the newest member of the D-Backs was placed on the 10-Day injured list on August 10 and will not pitch in this series.
Friday night, Webb (W, (2-2, 3.29 ERA) squared off against D-Backs lefty Robbie Ray (L, 1-3, 8.33 ERA). After making his major league debut Thursday night, Giants rookie Joey Bart returned to the lineup for a second consecutive game.
Webb’s issue this season has been his high pitch count, and that one token inning where he throws a lot of pitches. He held the D-Backs scoreless in the top of the first after surrendering a two-out double to Christian Walker. 23 pitches in the first inning.
The Giants (12-16) rallied in the bottom of the first. Austin Slater led off the inning with a walk, followed by a Donovan Solano single to left. Mike Yastrzemski drove a deep fly ball to left field, which bounced off the glove of the left fielder. The runners anticipated the ball being caught, so everyone advanced just one base.
Shortly after, Slater exited the game with a trainer. He was replaced by Darin Ruf. The Giants stranded all three runners after a strikeout of Flores, and a groundball double-play off the bat of Longoria.
Bottom of the second, another rally for the Giants. Hunter Pence led off the inning with a walk, followed by a booming double off the bat of Bart.
Two batters later, Mauricio Dubon walked with one out. Ruf went down swinging for the second out. Solano flew out to center, ending the Giants second-consecutive bases-loaded rally. Scoreless game through two innings.
Webb settled into a nice groove. Three shutout innings, only one baserunner, and six strikeouts.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler discussed what he saw from his young starting pitcher Friday night:
“It was a different game in the second half for Logan [Webb]. Early on he was actually making pitches and doing a nice job, but he was also falling behind and having to battle back in the count. He was able to execute pitches, but he wasn’t attacking the same way he did in the later innings. At that point he got super efficient and started to get in the zone, and look for the contact, got early contact. I think he really learned that it doesn’t hurt him, his stuff is good enough that he can just attack with it. He was able to get through seven innings for us, it was huge. It saved us an additional bullpen arm and allowed us to go directly to [Tony Watson] and [Tyler Rogers].”
Giants struck first. With one out in the bottom of the third, Flores walked. Next batter, Longoria, launched a two-run homer to left. Giants on the board 2-0.
Brandon Crawford hit his 100th career home run Thursday night, and tonight it was Longoria’s turn for a milestone. His home run in the third was his 300th of his career.
After the game, Longoria talked about hitting his milestone home run:
“It’s special. It’s really not something that i’ve looked at and said ‘oh there’s only x amount of guys that have done it.’ My whole focus over the course of my career has been showing up to the ballpark every day, trying to contribute as best I can. I’ve never really thought about personal numbers, but it is special. My wife has continued to remind me before the year started that I was only three short, and she really likes even numbers, so i had to make sure I got there. It feels good to have it out of the way.”
Little known fact, Gabe Kapler was teammates with Longoria in 2009 and 2010. After the game, Kapler discussed his former teammates big home run, and what it was like playing alongside Longoria back then:
“It was pretty cool. 2009 was Evan’s second year, my first year in Tampa. He just had a monster year, hit 33 homers, 110-plus RBIs, 110 runs scored, played stellar defense. I think what I saw in Evan at that point was a really genuine, good human being, a good teammate, and somebody who put winning first. 300 home runs later, it isn’t a surprise, frankly. He was that good then, and he’s just had an incredible career. Really really happy for him and I know his teammates are as well.”
With one out in the top of the fourth, Walker doubled off Webb for the second time in as many at-bats. Next batter David Peralta doubled to right-center, scoring Walker. Eduardo Escobar followed with a single up the middle, plating Peralta from second. Just like that, the D-Backs (13-14) tied the game after three straight hits off Webb.
Escobar advanced to second on a wild pitch with two outs in the inning. Webb escaped allowing just the two runs.
Ruf doubled with two outs in the bottom of fourth inning. Solano popped out to end the inning. The Giants stranded five runners in scoring position through the first three innings.
Webb had a quiet top of the fifth inning. His pitch count climbed to 83 pitches, which was not great, but allowed for another inning and the potential for a quality start.
Oracle Park has really turned into a hitters park this season. The ball is flying out each and every night. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Yastrzemski walked. Next batter, Flores, launched a moonshot of a home run to left field, his seventh of the season. The Giants now led 4-2.
Longoria followed with a base hit, advancing to second on a wild-pitch. The Giants went down quietly, stranding another runner in scoring position.
Webb surrendered a base hit to Walker in the top of the sixth. Other than that, a clean inning for the Giants rookie, his first time completing six innings this season.
The Giants have used Webb very carefully since he debuted last season. He received Tommy John Surgery early in his career, so the ramp-up process has been slower for him, just to be on the safe side.
Friday night he continued on into the seventh inning, throwing over 100 pitches, and sending the D-Backs down in order. His night was finished after completing seven innings for the first time in his young career.
Webb discussed his outing tonight and going seven innings for the first time in his career:
“Going into this game, thinking ‘attack these guys the entire game.’ It’s something that me and Joey [Bart] talked about, it’s something that he likes to do. Going in with that mindset, for me that’s what I need to do. I felt pretty good today.”
Leading by only two, the Giants looked to add on. The bottom of the seventh began with a double to left off the bat of Yastrzemski. Flores followed with a single, advancing Yastrzemski to third. Longoria grounded out, advancing Flores to second.
Runners at second and third with one out for pinch-hitter Alex Dickerson who was intentionally walked. Bart to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.
The intentional walk did not work in the D-Backs favor. Bart issued a fantastic 10-pitch walk to force in a run. Crawford grounded out, scoring another run for the Giants.
Longoria is swinging a hot bat himself, but after the game, he talked about the team’s offensive success:
“From a hitting coach standpoint, we’re getting really good information. We have daily meetings, night in and night out we have had a really good, collective plan on what we’re trying to do against the starter, then when the relievers come in. Top to bottom, I feel like we have put together good at-bats. Drawing walks, getting deep into counts, and not missing the pitches that we should be hitting. It’s been fun, we’ve got some momentum going right now. Guys are feeding off each other, and it seems like no one in the order is depending on somebody else to produce.”
Dubon ended the Giants rally, grounding out to first, stranding Dickerson and Bart. Giants extended their lead to 6-2 heading into the eighth inning.
Tyler Rogers on for the ninth inning, Giants still leading 6-2. Walked led off the inning with his fourth hit of the night, a single to center. Peralta flew out to center, one out. Escobar a grounder back to Rogers, out number two. Former Giant Stephen Vogt flew out to right field, and that was it.