SAN FRANCISCO — After helping the Giants clinch the National League West title on the final day of the regular season, Logan Webb described the moment as the best game of his career — “so far.”
That qualifier proved prescient, as it took only five days for the 24-year-old budding ace to outdo himself.
Webb dazzled in his playoff debut on Friday night at Oracle Park, striking out 10 over 7 2/3 innings to carry the Giants to a 4-0 win over the Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
Webb, a native of nearby Rocklin, is San Francisco’s youngest starter, but he continued to thrive on the big stage, limiting the Dodgers to five hits and walking none while becoming only the fourth Giants pitcher to strike out at least 10 batters in his first postseason game. He also joined Jake Arrieta (2015 NL Wild Card Game) as the second pitcher in NL/AL history to spin at least seven scoreless innings, strike out 10 and walk none in a postseason debut.
Webb is known for his power sinker, but he leaned heavily on his changeup-slider combination and finished the night with 21 whiffs, matching the career high he set against the Brewers on Sept. 2.
“It’s really cool,” Webb said. “You kind of dream of these moments growing up as a player. Just to be able to be a part of it and do it is something that’s special, for sure.”
Webb’s performance put him alongside two franchise icons, as he joined Tim Lincecum (Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS) and Madison Bumgarner (2014 NL Wild Card Game) as the only Giants starters to rack up 10 strikeouts and throw at least 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a postseason start.
Posey, who was behind the plate for the two previous instances, said Webb’s outing reminded him of the legendary effort delivered by Lincecum, who struck out 14 over nine shutout innings in his postseason debut against the Braves in 2010.
“I think Timmy ended up nine shutty on that, but I think Logan had the potential to do that tonight if he stays out there,” Posey said. “It was a great performance. I think what’s impressive to me is him being able to control the extra energy and nerves, not only in this game, but the last game of the season. He’s really taken it up a notch.”
The Giants had the opportunity to go with either Webb or Kevin Gausman as their Game 1 starter, but they decided to hand the ball to Webb, who blossomed into the club’s most dominant starter in the second half. He hasn’t dropped a decision in 21 consecutive starts, the second-longest streak in franchise history behind Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell, who holds the record with 22 from 1936-37.
The Giants are undefeated in Webb’s 13 starts at Oracle Park this year, as he improved to 7-0 with a 1.78 ERA over his last 14 appearances at home.
“I think we’ve been seeing that for months,” Crawford said. “It was nice for everybody else to be able to see it. Webby’s nasty.”
Webb admitted to feeling some nerves in the first inning, but he managed to maintain his composure even while pitching through traffic and a couple of rare errors from the Giants’ defense throughout the night. He gave up a shift-busting single to Mookie Betts to open the game, but he successfully stranded the runner at third by making a kick save to knock down a potential RBI single off the bat of Justin Turner.
After Betts’ hit, Webb retired nine in a row before allowing Corey Seager to reach on a fielding error to start the fourth, but he came back to strike out Trea Turner on a changeup and then benefited from a slick 4-6-3 double play that started with an impressive glove flip from second baseman Tommy La Stella.
“That was pretty sick,” Webb said. “That was awesome. I was screaming and yelling. I think everyone was screaming and yelling, but it’s a special play.”
Webb’s sinker-slider combination keyed his second-half rise with the Giants this year, but he altered his pitch mix against the Dodgers, throwing a career-high 38 changeups (41%) and inducing 12 whiffs with the pitch, a single-game high.
“He’s got three pitches that are elite, and so it’s definitely a luxury on my end to kind of pick and choose depending upon the game and the lineup that we have and the action that I’m seeing on his pitches to which one we want to lean on more,” Posey said.
The Dodgers struggled to get Webb’s offerings in the air, finishing the night with 11 groundouts, 10 strikeouts and two flyouts. Webb is now 2-0 with a 1.52 ERA against Los Angeles this season.
“To be quite honest, we didn’t make adjustments,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I thought he had good command tonight, mostly the glove side versus the right-hand hitters. Then the slider, the change down below, and we just chased a lot more than we should have. If you don’t make adjustments, then they’re going to keep going to the well, and that was kind of the story of it.”
Webb took the mound in the eighth, but he was removed after yielding a two-out single to Betts and walked off the field to a thunderous ovation from the sellout crowd.
“Logan, the star of the night,” Bryant said. “I’m so impressed with him. His first playoff experience and he was just out there pretending like it’s a game in the backyard. It was really fun to watch. Really fun.”
The Giants are hoping it’s only the beginning for Webb, whose confidence continues to rise alongside his stardom.