The Giants’ series-opening loss to the last-place Reds inspired a rare existential vibe in the postgame clubhouse. It was San Francisco’s fifth defeat in its last six games.
Starter Alex Cobb, who took the loss, said “every win is going to be valuable from here on out.”
“It’s a division that doesn’t allow you to go through slumps,” Cobb said. “You might get one of those teams a night that doesn’t win the ballgame or the series, but the other one’s not going to. You’re trying to climb up the division with two teams in front of you, your margin for error is much smaller. You can’t go on those losing streaks. You’ve got to find a way to snap those quickly.
As dispiriting as their 4-2 loss to Cincinnati was, the Giants were handing the ball to Logan Webb the next day. Surely he’d be able to plug the dam. The Giants had won 21 of Webb’s 27 career starts at Oracle Park. That kind of dependability is rare, and in this skid that brought SF to 11-11 in June, it was much-needed.
Webb provided six excellent innings, and the Giants buoyed him with nine runs of support. Evan Longoria, Thairo Estrada, Joc Pederson and Wilmer Flores each homered as the Giants (39-32) cruised to a 9-2 win.
The Giants scored at least one run in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. They likely would’ve started the game with at least a run in the first, but a questionable call that sent Pederson back from second to first base stunted a promising rally.
Longoria and Estrada jacked solo home runs in the second. San Francisco manufactured two more in the third. The bottom of the order, with Tommy La Stella’s double into the right-center gap, added another in the fourth. Then Pederson’s 17th homer of the season gave the Giants a 6-1 lead and Flores’ three-run shot pushed it into blowout territory.
Pederson, who was treated as a platoon player for most of his career with the Dodgers, was one of three left-handed hitters in the Giants’ starting lineup against southpaw Mike Minor. The 420-foot blast from Pederson was his second of the year off a left-handed pitcher.
Longoria’s homer was his second in as many games. Earlier this year, he smacked five long balls in five games, showing he can get hot from the plate in a hurry.
Three of SF’s four homers came off Minor, who entered Saturday allowing three home runs per nine innings. The Reds’ veteran allowed Webb to pitch with a lead for nearly his entire outing.
Webb struck out three of the first four batters he faced, showing electric stuff when his arm was freshest. Two walks, a hit-by-pitch and an error from Longoria drove up his pitch count, but Webb was still effective even as he went deeper into the game.
In the sixth inning, after his 97th pitch, Webb slapped his glove and pointed to Longoria, who had made a diving stab and cross-diamond flip to end the inning. With his homer and that play, Longoria had more than atoned from the early error that cost the Giants a run.
Cincinnati’s lone run off Webb was unearned. He’s allowed just three earned runs in his past four starts now, tightly resembling the superstar he ascended to in the second half of 2021. In that four-game span, he’s struck out 22 and walked five.
With a 9-1 lead Saturday, there was no reason to push Webb’s pitch count into the 100s. His last turn, he maxxed out at a career-high 112 pitches. The 25-year-old proved he can push his limits, but that’s not something he nor the Giants should want to make a habit of.
The habit Webb and the Giants have formed, though, is a winning one. Before taking a loss earlier this season in Oracle Park to the Rockies, the Giants hadn’t lost a Webb home start since Aug. 27, 2020.
Perhaps another similar streak of home dominance is brewing.