ST. LOUIS -- Logan Webb has admittedly not been at his best in recent weeks, but the Giants feel he’s trending in the right direction.
Webb earned his Major League-leading fifth win of the season by firing six innings of one-run ball to help the Giants win their season-high sixth in a row with an 8-2 victory over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Despite the results, Webb wasn’t satisfied with the overall performance, as he struggled with his command early and still wasn’t flashing his best stuff despite holding the Cardinals to three hits. The 25-year-old right-hander issued three walks, hit one batter and generated only five swinging strikes while throwing 95 pitches.
“I thought I turned a corner in this last bullpen [session],” said Webb, who improved to 5-1 with a 3.48 ERA through seven starts this year. “Today it was closer to where I wanted to be, but it still felt a little foreign out there. It’s always different when you get in a game against a hitter. But I think we’re on the right track. I can’t really complain because I technically had a good game and I got the win. But I think there’s more there.”
Even so, Webb managed to remain effective, using his sinker to induce plenty of ground balls, including a pair of timely double plays. The Cardinals manufactured their lone run in the first inning when Webb issued a leadoff walk to Tommy Edman, who stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch before scoring on Paul Goldschmidt’s RBI groundout.
The most frustrating part for Webb was that he got ahead, 0-2, on the first six batters he faced, yet he didn’t strike any of them out. His only strikeout of the game came in the sixth, when Nolan Arenado swung through a changeup for the first out of the inning.
“I didn’t put anybody away with good stuff,” Webb said. “I’m just kind of fighting through that right now.”
Still, there were some positive signs that Webb is moving toward regaining the dominant form he showed for the second half of last season, when he emerged as one of the best pitchers in baseball. He didn’t allow a hit until Brendan Donovan singled to lead off the fifth, and he began to incorporate more of his slider, which became a key part of his rise last year.
Webb hasn’t been happy with his feel for his slider during this challenging stretch, forcing him to lean more on his changeup, but he had more of a balanced pitch mix Friday, which he feels bodes well for him moving forward.
“I was just telling him, he’s trending,” said catcher Curt Casali, who hit his first home run of the season to cap the Giants’ five-run rally in the eighth.
“He’s trending in the right direction. We worked on a couple of things with his delivery, and I think he was happy with that. I think once the fourth or fifth came around, that’s when his slider really started to play again. Just like last year, when the slider came into the equation, that’s when he started to become Logan Webb. If last year is any indication, then he’s right on schedule and where he needs to be.”
Manager Gabe Kapler said the club’s other veteran starters, including Alex Cobb and Alex Wood, have emerged as key resources for Webb, who is still finding a way to get the job done for the Giants.
“One of the things that we recognize is we’ve all set the bar really high for Logan,” Kapler said. “Logan set the bar really high for himself. But he’s still a developing young pitcher. He’s not the most experienced of our staff. He’s kind of taken the role of being kind of the No. 1, the ace of this staff. He’s still growing, he’s still learning the league and he’s still learning himself.
“I’m really glad that he has his teammates around him to support him and get him through this tough time. But he’s 5-1. He’s still pitching well. He’s still giving us a chance to win every time he goes out there. It just makes you remember how good this guy really is and how fun it’s going to be when he gets his best stuff back and is really filling up the strike zone.”