Logan Webb clenched his fists as he set up a star-studded Dodgers lineup throughout the game, then raised his throwing hand in appreciation after a masterful post-season debut.
Webb struckout 10 while working in the eighth inning, Buster Posey hit a two-run home run that held, and the 107-win San Francisco Giants beat defending World Series champion Los Angeles 4-0 on Friday night in the opener of their NL. Division series.
Those two giants of Giants sum it up perfectly for the champions of NL West this year: a brilliant performance by the young right-hander, supported by an experienced catcher who has shone so many times on this big podium in October.
Webb credited Posey’s presence behind the plate to help him excel.
“I just got him back there, honestly,” Webb said. “He will calm me down.”
Kris Bryant and Brandon Crawford also homered behind a combined five-hitter by Webb and a pair of relievers.
Everyone knows that this match-up between age-old rivals takes this best-of-five playoff series to another level. They finished with baseball’s two best records, and the division came to its final day when the Dodgers finished one game back with 106 wins, ending their run of eight consecutive Western crowns.
That meant Los Angeles had to get past the Cardinals on Wednesday night in the wildcard game and then fly straight to the Bay Area, where a loud crowd packed Oracle Park.
“The energy today was great,” Webb said.
The Dodgers will try to tie the series when they send 20-game winner Julio Urías to the mound on Saturday-evening for Game 2 against Giants All-Star righthanded Kevin Gausman.
Webb waved his throwing hand as he walked away to a rousing ovation in the eighth on a two-out single by Mookie Betts. He did not walk while outpitching Dodgers ace Walker Buehler.
“He acted like it was a backyard game,” Bryant said.
Webb joined only two other pitchers to ever win a postseason start with 10 or more strikeouts, no walks and no runs – Jake Arrieta for the Cubs on October 7, 2015, against the Pirates and Phillies’ Cliff Lee on October 18 October, 2009, against the Dodgers.
Tyler Rogers took off for the last out in the eighth and rookie Camilo Doval worked calmly in the ninth.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler, who made his own playoff debut on the top step of the dugout, was confident that 24-year-old Webb would shine in the biggest start of his life. Last Sunday, Webb knocked the Giants past the Padres in the regular season finale as San Francisco took the club’s first division title since 2012. Webb hasn’t lost in Colorado since May 5.
With a changeup and slider, Webb was in full control. He also turned four comebackers into outs.
“To be honest, I don’t think we made any adjustments,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Tommy La Stella had a couple of basehits and played scintillating defense to get things started by walking Buehler on a five-pitch walk in the bottom of the first.
That kicked things up a notch for Posey, who last year sat out the coronavirus abbreviated season to care for prematurely adopted twin girls. He hit a 3-0 pitch into a waterspouting pillar above the right field arcade with two outs in the first to send the orange towel-wielding sold-out crowd of 41,934 into a frenzy.
“The dang column kept me from having a splash,” Posey burst with a grin. No right-handed batter has ever reached McCovey Cove.
Kapler said Posey could play any game after the season, and why not? At age 34, the veteran catcher started five of the last six games in the regular season and 10 of 13 in total to finish the season. This was his first postseason homerun since Game 4 of the 2012 World Series in Detroit off Max Scherzer.
La Stella stopped Justin Turner’s sharp grounder to second base in the fourth and in the same motion, the ball flipped to Crawford, and the shortstop fired at first baseman Wilmer Flores for an inning-ending double play.
“That was pretty sick,” Webb said, “That was great. I screamed and screamed, I think everyone screamed and screamed. It’s a special play.”
This is the first post-season meeting between the legendary franchises whose histories stretch back to their days in New York. In 1951 and 1962, the teams faced each other in a best-of-three NL tiebreak with the Giants winning each of those in three.
Webb starred one night in San Francisco 49ers Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Steve Young leading the “Beat LA!” sing for the first pitch. Homerun king Barry Bonds got a standing ovation, got up and waved when he was shown on the big screen in the middle innings, sitting with NBA Hall of Famer Chris Mullin.
Bryant, acquired in a midseason trade with the Cubs, homered in the seventh for the Giants. Buehler lowered his head with hands on knees as the ball sailed over the left field fence.
“Of course it’s up to me to try and build some momentum and I kind of sucked that out of our dugout,” Buehler said.
Crawford connected in the eighth.
Buehler had been 7-0 against the Giants all his life before losing in the season finale on September 5 when San Francisco defeated LA 10-9, with the Dodgers leading 80-78 in runs.
Dodgers: Roberts went with left-handed David Price among his 12 pitchers over fellow southpaw Justin Bruihl, who made his major league debut in August and isn’t one that Los Angeles is comfortable throwing for days in a row. As for Price, Roberts noted the positives: “I think with David, definitely the experience, the ability to add some height, a neutral arm.” In fact, Roberts didn’t rule out considering Price an opener for Game 4.
Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto was left out of the San Francisco roster after missing a lot of time all season with elbow problems. “Very difficult decision. I think we would have liked to see him stretched out and maybe see him as someone who could start one of these games for us,” Kapler said. “We just couldn’t get there, and that’s hard. It’s especially tough because Johnny has meant so much to the organization.” … 1B Brandon Belt is sidelined by a broken left thumb that he hopes will heal in time for a return to the NLCS if the Giants continue.
Urías (20-3, 2.96 ERA) has not lost in 17 starts since June 21, going 11-0 over that stretch, including a win on September 4 at Oracle Park.
“It’s a big game and I will have the maximum focus,” said Urías.
Gausman (14-6, 2.81) was 0-1 on his last four starts after five consecutive winning decisions. But he gave up one run over seven innings in an eventual extra-inning loss against San Diego last Saturday.
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