As April ends, Giants in 1st place in NL West

San Francisco drops opener in San Diego, but impressed during first month

May 1st, 2021

The Giants didn’t finish April with a victory, but they did something better: They finished April in first place.

After closing the first month of the 2021 season with a 3-2 loss to the Padres at Petco Park on Friday night, the Giants stand a half-game ahead of the Dodgers in the National League West with a 16-10 record.

It’s the first time San Francisco has entered May in first place since the 2014 World Series-winning club went 17-11 over the first month of its season.

“We know what type of team we have, what type of team we are and what we want to be,” starting pitcher Logan Webb said. “It’s exciting to see it click and come together. Man, it’s fun to watch all our guys.”

It says something that the Giants can talk about fun after a tough loss like Friday’s.

Shortstop Brandon Crawford left midway through the game with a bruised left calf. The Giants were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. They loaded the bases in the seventh and eighth innings and came away with only one run. And an apparent pinch-hit grand slam by Darin Ruf in the seventh was taken away when replays showed the ball tailing foul in the right-field corner.

All that, and the Giants were unbowed.

“We’ve played a lot of tight games,” catcher Buster Posey said. “I want a lot of tight games. That’s a good sign. It’s a good recipe. I think the winning teams I’ve played for in the past have a knack for winning those close games. Hopefully, that’s something we can continue to do.”

Two big reasons the Giants have ascended to the top of the division have been their starting pitching and the resurgence of Posey.

Webb delivered a quality start Friday (six innings, three runs allowed), as San Francisco ended the month with a Major League-best 2.29 ERA from its starting pitchers. Posey smacked his sixth homer -- an opposite-field shot off Padres starter Yu Darvish in the first inning. It was Posey’s first six-homer month since May 2017.

Posey hasn’t reached double digits in home runs since hitting 12 in 2017. He had surgery the following year because of a right hip impingement.

“I feel good,” said Posey, who chose not to play the '20 season. “I think it’s a combination of a lot of different things -- some of my preparation for the game, working with the hitting [coaches], being a little bit further away from the hip surgery.”

Webb is feeling good, too. He followed the best outing of his career (seven scoreless innings vs. Miami) with his second quality start of the year. That’s the first time he has had back-to-back quality starts since the final two outings of his rookie season in 2019.

The game was tied at 1 into the sixth inning, when Jurickson Profar sent a 92.8 mph four-seam fastball from Webb back up the middle for a two-run single. That proved to be enough for San Diego, as San Francisco couldn't capitalize on its late scoring opportunities (with the replay cameras making sure of that).

“That game could have gone much differently,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said, “but we have to accept responsibility that we need to be really, really good against the best teams in baseball.”