The first hard hit ball of the night for Miami Marlins came with 2 outs in the 7th: a pinch-hit 2-out, 2-run homer to dead center, flipping a 1-run deficit into a lead. For San Francisco Giants starter Logan Webb—already 0-3 on the year with an uncharacteristically high penchant for giving up home runs—it soiled his first outing since signing a 5-year extension.
Monday’s 4-3 loss to Miami somehow felt both inevitable and impossible.
Webb had pitched 6 ⅔ innings doing what he does best: staying ahead in counts, avoiding walks, and keeping the ball heavy and on the ground.
He located his sinker low and on the corners, establishing it early in counts allowing him to play with the slider and change-up to tease swings on pitches skirting down and away from the zone. He K’ed 6—not a high total but when contact was made it was generally weak.
J.D. Davis continues to flash the glove at the hot corner pic.twitter.com/LzEF5InS7R— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 18, 2023
Still, balls in play are balls in play. Freaky things can happen when that smiling white orb starts bouncing around the infield. Freaky things did kind of happen and ultimately left Webb screaming into his mitt.
Webb nearly stranded a lead off double in the 3rd, but was burned by a fast infield. With 2-outs, Jazz Chisholm Jr. somehow slapped a 2-strike change-up sock high (and inside) through the middle of the infield to score Miami’s first run.
The Marlins second run came in the 6th after Chisholm singled to start the inning. He started for second that spoiled a ground ball that could’ve been potentially cashed in for a double play. Luis Arraez, currently leading the Majors in batting average, pulled another sock-high change-up through the hole in second and first to bring the Marlins within one.
Good hitters sometimes punish good pitches.
Hitters sometimes get lucky. It sounds childish, and I don’t mean to take anything away from the talent and skill that goes into hitting a baseball. But…the Marlins got lucky in the 7th inning against Webb and it won them the game.
Jean Segura led off the inning in a quick 0-2 hole. He took some pitches out of the zone, fouled some off, before hitting a change-up directly into the ground that took an ungodly first bounce 6-inches from home plate and with Segura’s speed, it meant an infield single. This was the moment—based on how this season is going for the Giants so far—that us fans at home start pacing. The simmering stomach acid started to boil. Dread knotted itself in our throats. An infield single is a black cat, a banshee, a banana on board a seafaring vessel—its hellish qualities magnified in the late-innings of a close game.
Jesús Sánchez, who maybe has the most ridiculously theatrical backswing in baseball, somehow made contact with an inside, letter high fastball in an 0-2 count that left his bat at 57 MPH and scooted through the chasm between the third base and J.D. Davis. Runners at the corners nobody out.
And once again, Webb almost got out of the jam unscathed. With the infield pulled in, catcher Nick Fortes grounded out to Brandon Crawford positioned on the grass, freezing Segura with a look, he flipped the ball to David Villar at second who completed the 6-4-3 double play. It was a miracle. A boost of the spirit. The illogic of the Marlins’ rally feebled by the double play—the bringer of justice.
The last batter to face was pinch hitter Jorge Soler—who always seems to be smiling and always seems to be hitting home runs against the Giants. The extra fun twist of the inning was that one of the base umpires called a balk on Webb in an 0-1 count and granted Miami the tying run. The umpires reconvened and the matter was quickly resolved (he was throwing from the wind-up not the stretch), allowing Webb to retake the rubber and Soler to kick Giants fandom in the groin.
Did the phantom balk call mess with Webb’s head in a crucial moment in the game? He’s a professional and he isn’t going to throw around excuses. Though the answer to the above question is: it probably didn’t help.
Base umpires should be neither seen, nor heard.
Logan Webb explains his side of the seventh inning balk situation pic.twitter.com/Kii4c7rgpV— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 18, 2023
Ultimately, Webb didn’t finish innings well. 3 of Miami’s 4 runs came with 2-outs. All three of the RBI hits came when he had count leverage. The 0-1 slider was the worst one of the night when he needed to throw his best one. Designed to be off the plate to righties, it stayed elevated and didn’t break. It was crushed, and Webb was once again tanked by the home run.
To start the season, the face of our franchise is 0-4 and with a 4.94 ERA.
Yesterday I wrote about how the Giants have been inexplicably handcuffed by left-handed pitching so far this season. I figured it was going to be a major hang-up in today’s game against hard-throwing LHP Jesús Luzardo.
Luzardo took the mound with a sub-2.00 ERA over his first 3 starts, armed with a high-average velocity on his fastball paired with a diabolical tandem of change-up and slider.
First career RBI for Heliot Ramos puts the Giants ahead early pic.twitter.com/AYmcFZlvMy— KNBR (@KNBR) April 17, 2023
San Francisco hitters weren’t fazed. They fouled off his fastball and forced him into deep counts, collecting 6 hits, 2 BB, and 3 runs in 4.1 innings.
Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos scorched back to back doubles in the 2nd for the first run in the game, and David Villar lined an 0-2 mistake into the gap in right-center for a 2-out 2-RBI double. Luzardo threw 80 + pitches through 4 innings, and his night ended with his 100th with only one out in the 5th.
At the start of Monday’s game, San Francisco’s 17 doubles were the lowest in MLB. I know this may be hard to follow, but doubles aren’t worth as much as home runs—in a 4-3 loss there are plenty of spots in the game when a long ball would’ve been nice. Still it’s encouraging to see some versatility in bats, and the 3 doubles that produced 3 early runs (especially from down lineup right-handed hitters against a lefty) was a step in the right direction.
David Villar drives in a pair pic.twitter.com/tUmEQCaTAQ— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 17, 2023
What wasn’t ideal is what seems to be happening a lot lately. Runs in bunches, bursts, that are too early and way too short. This already feels like the 10th time the Giants have started with an early lead only to passively stand-by as it is slowly chipped away inning-by-inning until it becomes nothing.
Their leads are sandcastles built too close to the water with a rising tide—they’ll inevitably wash away.
Are my metaphors comforting you?
Starter Luzardo was chased in the 5th and the bats couldn’t tack on. Reliever Andrew Nardi threw 11 pitches and recorded 5 outs. Wilmer Flores hit a single in the 5th and the next hit San Francisco recorded was a single by Joey Bart in the 9th. That’s too big of a gap! Too much time has passed—have they forgotten baseball is all about time now?!?! There were scoring opportunities on walks and errors to cash in and tack on and the bats didn’t.
No bullpen to blame on this one. Webb was really good—except for that one pitch. A measly slider shouldn’t carry that much weight when tipping the scales of a game. The Giants just need to keep scoring runs.