Logan Webb's first career shutout sends Giants into the break with momentum (2024)

SAN FRANCISCO — Logan Webb thought about the time that Buster Posey jinxed him.

He was a young right-hander having one of the best starts of his career. He’d thrown a manageable 81 pitches through seven innings. He was churning efficient outs with his two-seamer and changeup. The buzzing anticipation in the stands grew louder from one inning to the next.


It was the final day of the regular season in 2021, the Giants were cruising with an 11-1 lead over the Padres, and they were six outs away from clinching the NL West and celebrating one of the most exhausting and hard-fought division championships in history.

Posey walked up to Webb in the dugout and made a promise: I’ll give you a hug after this game.

“And then in the eighth, I gave up (three) straight hits and was out of the game,” said Webb, smiling at the memory.

Instead, reliever Dom Leone became an answer to a trivia question. Leone received the last official celebratory Buster Hug in franchise history. Those memories stirred within Webb after the seventh inning Sunday afternoon, when he needed just four pitches to retire three Colorado Rockies batters and give himself a shot at achieving a long-held goal.

“Just keep throwing strikes,” Webb told himself. “Stay with the same approach, don’t do anything different.”

Webb stayed the course, received a generous call in the ninth while striking out the side, and Patrick Bailey was there to embrace him as he sent the Giants with momentum into the All-Star break with a 1-0 victory. Webb scattered seven hits, struck out 10 and did not walk a batter while firing the first shutout of his career. It was also his first career complete game in the big leagues — a somewhat surprising box that remained unchecked for a staff ace who has established himself as one of the most durable performers in the big leagues.

Webb leads the major leagues with 126 innings. He’s the first Giants pitcher to lead the majors in innings at the All-Star break since Johnny Cueto (131 1/3) started for the NL All-Star team in 2016. Prior to that, Gaylord Perry (187 2/3 innings in 1970) and Juan Marichal (in 1966-67 and ’69) were the only other Giants pitchers in the San Francisco era to accomplish the feat.

“That was like the playoffs when it got loud with every strikeout, every out,” Webb said. “It’s a good feeling. Hopefully I can get some more of those feelings.”

Webb was at 88 pitches through eight innings and the margin remained razor thin because the Giants’ struggling offense had been limited to J.D. Davis’ home run in the fourth. Only once in Webb’s career had Giants manager Gabe Kapler allowed him to try for the complete game in the ninth, in a game May 30 of last season in Philadelphia, and that decision instantly backfired when Kyle Schwarber led off the inning with a tying home run.

On three other occasions when Webb completed eight innings, Kapler went to his bullpen. This time was different. The manager left All-Star closer and major-league saves leader Camilo Doval in the bullpen and sent Webb back to the mound. The crowd of 36,050 let out an approving and perhaps startled cheer as Webb skipped out of the dugout for the ninth.

“He earned the opportunity,” Kapler said. “We’ve got a full house on their feet wanting to see him come back out for the ninth. But you also have arguably the game’s best closer out there. You try to make the best decision on who’s the best person to get the next three hitters out, but at the same time you really want to reward Logan for his performance up to that point.

“Look, at the end of the day, this is an entertaining game and Logan did just that today. He entertained everybody with a fantastic performance.”

In a half-season that featured the most unconventional pitching usage patterns in Giants history, they went into the break with a performance that was both wholly conventional and wholly satisfying. The decision to let Webb go the distance was a nod of respect, not just for retiring more batters than anyone else prior to the break, but for delivering the reliably deep starts that allow the Giants to leverage matchups and use tandem starters and keep their opponents guessing at whom they’ll face in a given series.


“He’s eaten up so many innings,” said Bailey, who paused to correct his word choice. “Well, I wouldn’t say eaten up innings. He’s dominated a lot of innings and helped out our bullpen all year. For him to get a shutout is really cool.”

The game isn’t managed the same way anymore. To call a pitcher an innings eater used to be a compliment. Now there’s a pejorative edge to it. Front offices don’t value the 200-inning, 4.50 ERA season the way they used to. They’ve drilled down, become more efficient with bullpen usage and diversified their bulk-innings usage. There’s a reason that a pitcher like Jeff Samardzija didn’t last long once the Kapler-Zaidi group took over.

So when you can throw 200 innings in today’s game, it’s a compliment to more than durability. It means you’ve been consistently excellent — deemed the best option to face the next three batters every time you take the mound.

That’s the next goal on Webb’s list.

“I really want to get to 200 innings,” he said. “I came up with a lot of guys who were good at doing that. That rubbed off on me. I just want to say I got to 200 innings and was ready to go out there for the team every five days. We’ve got a long way to go but it shows the team is trusting me to keep going out there.”

The closest Webb came to throwing a complete game in the big leagues was in a July game at San Diego last year. He had thrown eight innings against the Padres and was on the hook to take a 1-0 loss before the Giants tied it in the ninth to force extra innings. Those eight-inning complete games in road losses might be official. But there’s nothing satisfying about them. This one scratched the right itch.

“I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to win a game with great starting pitching and defense,” Kapler said. “It’s a dream.”

When a great defensive play saves a shutout, it usually happens in the ninth inning. The Giants’ biggest defensive contribution Sunday might have happened on the first play of the game. Right fielder Mike Yastrzemski collected Jurickson Profar’s drive into the right-field corner, fired to second base and shortstop Casey Schmitt applied the tag almost before Profar began his slide. Schmitt ranged to his right and threw across his body to take away another hit. Brett Wisely showed off his range at second base as well. And the Giants tautly executed two inning-ending double plays, including a difficult 3-6-1 turn with Webb covering first base to end the sixth. Another double-play grounder in the seventh gave Webb the four-pitch inning he needed to position himself to go the distance.


“He was as efficient as he could possibly be,” Yastrzemski said. “It’s really fun to sit back and watch.”

“Electric,” Bailey said. “The changeup was the best I’ve seen it so far. The slider was dialed, the sinker execution — that was as good as it gets and as fun as it gets. I mean, he punched out the side in the ninth. So you couldn’t ask for much more there.”

Webb got a gift call when Kris Bryant was called out on a checkswing appeal to start the ninth. But he maintained his stuff to the end. And he got 10 whiffs out of 30 swings on his changeup, which he threw 50 times out of 103 total pitches. Prior to May of this season, Webb had never thrown 50 changeups in a start. Now he’s done it in four of his last 11 outings. He’s holding batters to a .284 slugging percentage on the pitch. Entering Sunday, its run value of minus-14 made the changeup the 12th most valuable pitch in the major leagues this season.

“My changeup was getting back to that depth I’m always trying to shoot for and might have lost for a couple games,” said Webb, who might have lost his shot at his first All-Star selection when he gave up five runs in the first inning at Toronto on June 28. “It felt good and I kept going back to it. Everything was going my way today.”

The Giants are 49-41 at the All-Star break and 2 1/2 games behind the co-leading Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West. They would be the third and final NL wild-card team as things stand, but the margin is far from comfortable. They are just a half-game better than the Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers. The Padres are 6 back but still have a positive run differential and it wouldn’t shock anyone if they made a run.

Perhaps the Giants’ depth-based pitching approach will serve them well in the second half. After Webb, All-Star Alex Cobb and Anthony DeSclafani, the Giants don’t have anyone on their staff who has thrown more than 57 innings. They’re banking on pitchers like Ross Stripling, Alex Wood and Sean Manaea to hit their stride with plenty of fuel to burn in the second half. Top prospect Kyle Harrison’s hamstring injury will delay his arrival. But it also means he’s likely to have more available innings in September, if the Giants believe he’s ready to thrive against major-league lineups.

And while only three teams have had their relievers face more batters than the Giants, that’s a statistic that can result in misleading conclusions. Aside from Doval and Tyler Rogers, no reliever is on a pace to appear in more than 63 games.


“We’re in a fine spot,” Kapler said. “I like our depth and our mix-and-match options. Our pitching staff as a whole is deep and strong. We’ve got some good players playing well at Triple A and some young, talented, enthusiastic players helping us win baseball games. I think we’re in a fine spot.”

The Giants fell out of an offensive rhythm over the past three weeks while using the injured list more often than any NL team in the first half. But those injuries provided opportunities to debut rookies who have contributed to victories. None have been more impactful than Bailey, who looks like he could hold down the catching position for the foreseeable future — and who will always remember catching his first big league shutout Sunday.

They even managed to do it in under two hours. It was the first nine-inning game the Giants played in under two hours in almost 14 years. (The Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano threw a two-hit shutout to beat Tim Lincecum and the Giants 3-0 on Sept. 25, 2009.)

When all of your teammates have flights booked for the All-Star break, throwing a shutout in 1 hour, 56 minutes is one way to win Willie Mac Award votes.

“Oh it was?” said Webb, informed of the snappy game time. “Nice. It means I’ll get to Tahoe a little faster.”

(Top photo: Robert Edwards / USA Today)

Logan Webb's first career shutout sends Giants into the break with momentum (1)Logan Webb's first career shutout sends Giants into the break with momentum (2)

Andrew Baggarly is a senior writer for The Athletic and covers the San Francisco Giants. He has covered Major League Baseball for more than two decades, including the Giants since 2004 for the Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. He is the author of two books that document the most successful era in franchise history: “A Band of Misfits: Tales of the 2010 San Francisco Giants” and “Giant Splash: Bondsian Blasts, World Series Parades and Other Thrilling Moments By the Bay.” Follow Andrew on Twitter @extrabaggs

Logan Webb's first career shutout sends Giants into the break with momentum (2024)
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