LOS ANGELES — Logan Webb saw what he needed to see. He didn’t need to keep watching.
The Giants starter strutted off the mound, staring at a dugout he was eager to return to. He broke his gaze not to look toward center field, where the ball was still in play, but to motion toward catcher Tyler Heineman, a sort of socially distant glove tap.
Mike Yastrzemski finally caught the ball that came off Mookie Betts’ bat, officially ending the second inning and escaping a bases-loaded jam against one of baseball’s best hitters. The 3-2 offspeed pitch, which Webb and Heineman had discussed, did the job, and so did Webb and his replacements — just barely — in the Giants’ 5-4 victory at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, their first of the season.
Able to debut their righty lineup against lefty starter Alex Wood, the Giants (1-2) saw some early returns from Austin Slater (three walks), Darin Ruf (an RBI single) and Donovan Solano (two-run double). But it was Webb and a little-known reliever making his major league debut who shined brightest on a gorgeous day at Chavez Ravine, a day that nearly came apart in the eighth and ninth innings.
Webb was not perfect but effective, pitching around six hits in four innings, his only run allowed coming on a double from Justin Turner (who has torched the Giants so far). But his stuff played when it needed to, and he was assisted by some mind-numbing baserunning from the Dodgers, who apparently played the part of the Giants.
Double plays off lineouts or flyouts ended the third, fourth and fifth, Los Angeles running into outs all over the field.
The Giants will take it, though will want credit for the relief efforts that followed Webb. Caleb Baragar, a 26-year-old making his major league debut — who wasn’t even invited to major league camp in February but then trained and learned his way to becoming a late pool addition, and then a 30-man roster addition — was perfect against the top of the Dodgers lineup.
Using his honed fastball, which now buzzes at the top of the zone, he retired Max Muncy and Betts to finish the fifth, then Cody Bellinger, Turner and Corey Seager to cross off the sixth. He had some help with the last at-bat though, Seager lining a twisting ball to left that made Austin Slater turn around on the warning track, making the catch as he slammed against the wall. He was shaken up and, while he walked off the field, would be replaced.
Austin Slater web gem pic.twitter.com/jxqYRAKMV8
— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) July 25, 2020
After Baragar came a Shaun Anderson who looked more like last year’s breakout reliever than this spring’s hesitant swing man. Pumping 96-mph fastballs and high-80s sliders, Anderson struck out the side.
It nearly unraveled. Tony Watson got into trouble in the eighth, when he was helped by a diving play in center field by Mauricio Dubon, but hurt by Solano not being able to handle a Turner hot-shot. He allowed a pair of runs before Tyler Rogers entered and pitched around a weakly hit single and a hit batter to escape danger.
Trevor Gott, serving as the day’s closer, allowed a homer to Will Smith that narrowed the lead to one. But he sat down Muncy, Betts and Bellinger, allowing the Giants to exhale after a disastrous two-game start to the season and allowing some timely hitting to hold up.
Ruf’s first-inning single, in his first major league at-bat since Oct. 1, 2016, knocked in Slater for the game’s first run. Yastrzemski doubled and scored on a wild pitch in the second, Wilmer Flores homered in the third and Solano’s lead-padding double came in the fourth.
That was enough on a day the Giants’ defense and pitching and the Dodgers’ baserunning nearly did a 180.