SAN FRANCISCO — For a second, it looked like Logan Webb’s shutout offer was about to end.
With a pair of runners and two out in the seventh inning Tuesday night at Oracle Park, Michael A. Taylor returned a single to right field, prompting Royals third base coach Vance Wilson to wave MJ Melendez from second square. But rookie outfielder Luis González quickly loaded the ball and threw a 97.4 mph pitch to receiver Austin Wynns, who made a good call and reached out to tag Melendez to end the inning.
An excited Webb shouted “Let’s go!” after watching the game unfold, showing González as he left the field after going seven scoreless innings on a career-high 112 pitches. It proved to be a pivotal moment for the Giants, who then beat the Royals, 4-2, to extend their winning streak to five games and clinch a series victory.
“When I gave up on it, it was more like, ‘[expletive], did it again, dropped out of a race,” Webb said. “And then he made the play and Austin made a great call and walked out. It was just super exciting. It was fun. It was awesome. It was a nice moment. »
Webb walked away with a 3-0 lead after allowing just five hits while walking three and striking out nine, but the Royals managed to shoot less than one on Bobby Witt Jr.’s sacrificial fly and Salvador Pérez’s RBI single against Tyler Rogers in the eighth.
Still, the Giants recovered a sacrificial ball from Tommy La Stella late in the eighth to give a two-run lead to Camilo Doval, who worked a scoreless ninth to convert his ninth save of the year.
The Giants have improved to 30-9 in Webb’s 39 outings since the start of the 2021 campaign, the second-best team winning percentage in the Majors (.763), behind only the Blue Jays’ .781 (they have a record of 25-7 in games started by Alek Manoah). San Francisco was nearly unbeatable when Webb won the mound at home, going 18-1 since the start of last season, with the only loss coming Thursday against the Rockies.
“It’s really what we expect,” said manager Gabe Kapler. “That’s where he set the bar, and now we expect him to meet her.”
Since the Royals tend to feast on fastballs, Webb decreased his use of sinkers and mostly relied on his slider and change, using his off-speed throws to generate 17 of his 20 swing shots on Tuesday.
“It’s all about the horizontal axis,” Royals third baseman Nicky Lopez said. “His cursor is over here, change over there. Nothing is really high or low. He has proven himself to be a tough pitcher.
Webb, who lowered his ERA to 3.43 in 13 starts this season, didn’t have much room for error for most of the night as he found himself locked in a pitching duel with the Royals southpaw Kris Bubic, who only gave up a fifth-inning single to Brandon Crawford before the Giants finally broke the scoreless tie with a three-run rally in the sixth.
González, who ranks third among qualified rookies with a .306 batting average, started the sixth with a double to left field and scored on Wilmer Flores’ single to put San Francisco on the board. Darin Ruf and La Stella followed with an RBI single and a sacrifice fly, respectively, to extend the Giants lead to 3-0.
The Royals threatened by putting runners in the corners with two outs in the sixth, but Webb retired Witt for the third time on a slider to get out of the block. He returned to the mound in the seventh with his pitch count at 94, though he was tested again after walking Melendez and giving up a single to Carlos Santana who put two one-out runners.
Kapler came out for a visit to the mound with Webb, who was at 104 pitches, but he decided to leave his young ace in the game.
“I just wanted to make sure he felt 100 percent,” Kapler said. “Obviously we had help if we needed it, so I kind of wanted to see if he was all there and able to have a good conversation, which he was. He was very calm and in control He also said his body felt good.
Webb added, “He asked me if I could get two outs, and I said, ‘Yeah. I still gave a hit, but luckily my teammates backed me up.
Webb then took out Kyle Isbel in search of his ninth punch before being bailed out by González, who uncorked the Giants’ second fastest outfield assist (97.4 mph) since Statcast began tracking to help Webb end his brilliant effort on a high.
“I have a lot of confidence in my shots,” González said. “Me and [first base coach] Antoan [Richardson] I worked very hard on my footwork on the court and took some good readings. I could see this ball and I had a good jump on it. I loaded it all the way up and was able to kind of get a four-seam grip on it. I just let him eat.