Buster Posey was curious to see if the moment would get to Logan Webb. If the 24-year-old would be “too amped” for such a big game, the regular season finale with the division title on the line.
Especially with sinkerballers like Webb, being too hyped up for a game can flatten the movement on pitches. Intense moments can cause pitchers to grip the ball too tightly or overthrow.
Webb’s first pitch of the game, a 94.2 mph sinker, dispelled any concerns. He struck out Trent Grisham on four pitches, Fernando Tatís Jr. on six, and Manny Machado on four to retire the side. Manager Gabe Kapler said that start was “exactly what we needed today” after a tough extra-innings defeat the day prior.
“I think the crowd just kind of took over,” Webb said. “That was pretty sweet. Before the game, after every strike, it was awesome.”
That first inning set the tone for a legacy-building performance. Webb, still in just his third MLB season, projects to be a Giants ace for years to come. His seven-inning, eight-strikeout — plus a three-run day at the plate — continues the tradition of unforgettable performances on Oct. 3.
There was Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” to send the New York Giants to the 1951 World Series. Jonathan Sanchez helped launch the 21st Century dynasty with five scoreless innings and a key triple.
Webb’s regular season finale, which he says is the No. 1 day of his professional career thus far, falls somewhere in between.
“I was super thankful to get the ball,” an alcohol-drenched Webb told reporters. “Kap came out to me and he was like ‘you know I’m really, really proud that you get the ball today.’ And that was cool for me.”
Webb emerged this year after an eventful, up-and-down path in the minors to become San Francisco’s most reliable starter. The Giants went 22-5 in games he started. He logged 14 straight starts of two earned runs or fewer, the longest stretch a Giants pitcher had completed since at least 1901.
Kapler called Webb’s development “remarkable.” There were hardly any external expectations of him coming off a 5.47 ERA in 2020. But as Webb started to locate his pitchers for strikes more often, he gained more and more confidence. Kapler said that wore off on his teammates and, eventually, to the batter’s box.
There was nobody the Giants would have rather handed the ball to in the season finale, with a chance to win a franchise-record 107th game and secure the division for the first time since 2012.
After striking out the side to start the game, Webb retired six more consecutive Padres. He worked efficiently, locating his sinkers and sliders for strikes. He’d generate five whiffs on each in the game.
By the time the fifth inning came around, the Giants already led 7-1. Webb allowed a double and hit a batter, but struck out two to head into the bottom half unscathed. Then he did the unimaginable — well, unimaginable to everyone besides him.
Webb unloaded on an 0-1 changeup from Nabil Crismatt, sending it into the left field seats for his first MLB home run.
“That was a special moment,” Webb said.
When Kevin Gausman famously hit a walk-off sacrifice fly to beat the Braves on Sept. 17, Webb greeted him in the dugout with that should’ve been me! jealousy. Webb regularly takes batting practice before games and prides himself on being the best hitting pitcher on the team.
“(Gausman) was telling me that he watches that video, his walk-off, every single day,” Webb said. “The first thing I did when I came here, I said ‘You know how you watch your walk-off? I’m going to watch my home run every single day.’”
After trotting around the bases, Webb said LaMonte Wade Jr. critiqued his form, telling Webb to “leannn back” like he does. Webb said he has the ball he hit out.
Webb’s two-run homer one-upped Sanchez and gave the Giants a 9-1 lead. He became the first Giants pitcher to go yard since Madison Bumgarner in 2019 and the first to score three runs since Russ Ortiz in 2002.
With the universal designated hitter expected to be enacted next year, it was possibly the final home run hit by a full-time pitcher ever, etching Webb both in Giants and MLB history.
Later in the game, Webb left after seven magnificent innings, tipping his cap to 36,901 standing Giants fans. He put three runners on, but it didn’t matter at that point. He’d already put together an epic start.
On the field after San Francisco’s 11-4 win, players kissed their significant others. They hugged their kids. They took photos and kicked around balls with their little ones.
There were Manager of the Year and Most Valuable Player endorsements. Congratulations, ski goggles and soaked “NL WEST CHAMPS” shirts. Webb at one point emerged from the dugout with an aluminum Coors can. Two players interrupted his press conference — “Oh my God Webby you’re so f***ing famous!” — to grab another round.
Those two unspecified players are right. Giants fans likely will never forget what Webb did today. The kid from Rocklin, CA might never have to buy a Coors in San Francisco ever again.