Webb, Yastrzemski show glimpses of stardom

May 19th, 2022

DENVER --  did his part to give the Giants a chance to extend their historic winning streak over the Rockies, though his efforts ultimately went unrewarded.

C.J. Cron crushed a go-ahead home run off José Álvarez to cap a three-run eighth inning that lifted the Rockies to a 5-3 comeback win on Wednesday afternoon at Coors Field, snapping the Giants’ 12-game winning streak over their National League West rivals.

Webb took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth, but he was removed after giving up a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Connor Joe, who delivered the Rockies’ first hit since the first inning.

San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler replaced Webb with Álvarez, who gave up a game-tying single to Yonathan Daza, followed by the monster two-run blast to Cron. It marked the first home run allowed by Álvarez since June 1, 2021, a stretch that spanned 57 innings and had been the longest active streak in the Majors.

“We’d done a nice job, until that point, with Cron,” Kapler said. “He hasn’t taken his best swings against us, and I think that’s a positive for our pitching staff. It’s really tough to fall behind him. He then is able to sit on a pitch like he did right there. Look, he’s one of the better right-handed hitters in baseball. He won that battle. That’s as simple as it gets.”

Webb was charged with three runs on four hits over seven-plus innings in his eighth start of the year, an impressive performance given the lively offensive environment at Coors Field. The 25-year-old right-hander gave up a pair of runs in the first inning, including a leadoff homer to Charlie Blackmon, and Webb had to work around two walks in the second, but he settled in after that and retired 16 in a row before Joe’s single to start the eighth.

“I thought the first inning was fine,” Kapler said. “There was a lot of attacking the strike zone, tons of strikes with all of his pitches, good pace, good stuff. After the second, which I thought was the more challenging inning -- where he lost command for a little bit -- it was as good as we saw last year. This is a very, very challenging place to pitch into the eighth inning. I thought it was one of the better performances in recent memory for Logan.”

Webb continued to take steps forward with his slider, which he threw a season-high 42% of the time on Wednesday. Webb hadn’t had much confidence in the pitch early this year, making him overly reliant on his changeup, but he began gaining a better feel for the weapon in his last start against the Cardinals, when he fired six innings of one-run ball.

“I thought from the get-go, it was doing what it was supposed to do,” Webb said. “I got more comfortable throwing it. Unfortunately, I put us in a hole early that, at the end, probably cost us. There were some things that went well, but we didn’t win.”

Yaz regaining MVP-caliber form
Another silver lining for the Giants emerged in the form of Mike Yastrzemski, who is beginning to recapture the form that earned him NL MVP Award votes in 2020. Yastrzemski batted ninth against Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland and put the Giants on the board with an RBI single in the second before doubling and scoring in the fourth.

Yastrzemski, 31, is hitting .349 (22-for-63) over his last 18 games, bumping his season average to .290 with an .828 OPS. A series at Coors Field didn’t hurt -- he’s a career .367 hitter over 21 games here -- though Yastrzemski said he also felt his stint on the COVID injured list at the end of last month gave him an opportunity to “reset mentally” following a sluggish start to the season.

“I tried to get back to taking good at-bats and making things simple and not trying too hard to do too much,” Yastrzmeski said. “That kind of helps.”

The Giants have become known for their platoon systems, but the left-handed-hitting Yastrzemski is re-establishing himself as an everyday player by showing that he can produce against both lefties and righties this year.

“We’ve come to just expect it from him,” Webb said. “He plays hard out there. When he’s on, he’s one of the best hitters in baseball, I think. You can’t ask for much more than that. I think he’s a special type of player.”