Sitting next to Logan Webb postgame, Buster Posey was asked to compare the 24-year-old’s masterful performance in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers on Friday to previous Giants playoff wins that he’s caught. The veteran catcher did not hesitate:
It felt a little bit like Lincecum’s against the Braves in 2010.”
Webb, who only a few months ago was virtually unknown to the baseball world outside Oracle Park, was dominant enough to draw comparisons to Tim Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young Award winner who blanked the Braves for nine innings to ignite the 2010 World Series run.
After clinching the NL West for the Giants last weekend with a performance for the ages, Webb did one better Friday. And if the Giants do go all the way, he might have to pitch some more Lincecum-like outings.
Webb’s domination continued with 10 strikeouts in 7-2/3 innings, as the Giants blanked the Dodgers 4-0 at Oracle Park in a statement win to strike first in the highly-anticipated best-of-five series.
All of Webb’s pitches were working, his slider curling away from batters, his fastball changing batters’ eye level, the off-speed pitches keeping everyone off-balance. He attacked the strike zone and went heavy on a slider-changeup combination. Webb (W, 1-0, 0.00 ERA) scattered five hits and didn’t issue a single walk. Only Jonathan Sanchez and Lincecum struck out more in their first career postseason start in Giants history.
It’s really cool, you kind of dream of these moments growing up as a player and just be able to be part of it and do it is something that’s special for sure.”
Manager Gabe Kapler thought Webb carried over the confidence and momentum from his previous start. The “stuff” has been there all season long, but on the biggest stage, Kapler could tell that his ace was ready for the moment:
It was the composure. It was the demeanor. It was the poise in the big stage, incredible atmosphere, and Webby just channeled all of that in his performance tonight.”
For all the power and might the Dodgers had up and down their lineup, none of them could figure out the 24-year-old Webb, who burst onto the scene this season and has already cemented himself into Giants lore.
Added Kris Bryant:
His first playoff experience and he was just out there pretending like it’s a game in the backyard.”
This was far from a game in the backyard. The first playoff game in five years at Oracle Park brought out 41,934 fans, buzzing with incessant “Beat LA” chants, the orange flags waving and whipping the stadium into a frenzy. The sing-along to “Bye Bye Baby” after Posey’s first-inning home run signaled Giants fans’ return to baseball’s big dance after half a decade. Friday night seemed like one continuous party for fans at the corner of 3rd and King — just like much of this magical 2021 season.
Bryant called the fans the “10th man tonight”:
I think they’re ready to go and ready to let out some of whatever was pent up from not even being able to come to the field last year.”
Posey put the Giants in front with a two-run shot in the first frame, swinging away on a 3-0 fastball from Dodgers starter Walker Buehler and depositing it on a hop into McCovey Cove.
It was the first home run that Buehler (L, 0-1, 4.26 ERA) had ever allowed on a 3-0 pitch, and Posey was the first Giants batter to hit a postseason home run at that count since data had been collected.
Webb got some help from his defense in the fourth inning. With a runner on first and one out, Tommy La Stella snagged Justin Turner’s hard-hit ball up the middle and flipped it with his glove to Brandon Crawford, who caught, gathered and threw in one motion to first for the double play.
La Stella said he works on glove flips occasionally, but credited Crawford for making an exceptional play look normal:
At this point for him it’s routine. For anybody else, it would blow your mind, but he makes that play 10 times out of 10.”
Bryant homered to left in the seventh off Buehler, and Crawford added a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth to right-center to give the Giants insurance runs.
For the Giants, the postseason couldn’t have started on a better note. Yet, for all positives from Friday — the timely hits, the shutdown pitching, the defense — both sides know this series won’t be easy for either team.
It’s a lot of fun and obviously two great teams who want this and are prepared for it, and I definitely think the environment was right where wanted it to be tonight.”