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How Giants' consistent defensive edge helped in win over Reds

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Mauricio Dubon makes play at second base

There are a lot of different ways these days to measure a team's defense. You can look at Defensive Runs Saved or Outs Above Average. You can dig deeper and get to positioning, or catch probability or the jumps players are getting.

Or, you can make it simple. We know the Giants have a pretty good defense because we've watched it, and we know it's giving them the edge most nights because we just watched the Cincinnati Reds for nine innings. 

The Reds made mental and physical mistakes in the Giants' 6-3 win, which was a reminder that other teams do this sometimes but the Giants rarely do. On a rare two-error night for the Giants -- which included Brandon Crawford's first one of the season -- the Giants still had a clear edge and played much cleaner baseball, a subtle key to their hot start.

They have at times cost themselves games with an inconsistent offense and a bullpen that can give up runs in bunches, but through 41 games they've played solid defense just about every night.

Even after their two-error night, the Giants have just 13, the lowest total in baseball. The next-closest team in the NL is the Washington Nationals at 19 errors, and if you look up and down the list you see a small reason why the Giants might still be in first in a very close NL West: The San Diego Padres, who entered the day half a game behind the Giants, have an NL-worst 32 errors. 

 

The infield defense was particularly noteworthy on this night, as the Reds butchered so many balls that Sonny Gray gave up an undeserved first-inning run and lasted just five innings because of a high pitch count. On the other side, Logan Webb got 10 ground ball outs, with Mauricio Dubón at second being particularly helpful. 

Webb again pushed the pace and kept his fielders involved. He said that was the plan, noting that the Reds have a lineup of guys who like to swing early.

"When I've got a good tempo going and I'm throwing my sinker for strikes, I think that's a good recipe for success," Webb said. 

Webb took the mound with a lead, as the defensive issues started right away for the Reds.

Gray seemingly got eight outs in the first, but the Reds wasted one double play grounder when first baseman Kyle Farmer left the bag, another when he couldn't snag a hard grounder and a third when a flip to second was thrown away. Their second baseman, Jonathan India, also mistimed his leap on a soft Darin Ruf liner.

The Giants got just one run that inning, but Crawford reached on an error in the fourth and scored on Wilmer Flores' homer. A big insurance run was added in the eighth on a huge mental mistake.

With runners on first and third Austin Slater was picked off, but he stayed in a rundown and the Reds infielders never looked at Ruf -- who was on third -- and instead chased Slater around as Ruf cruised home and into a Giants dugout full of smiles and laughter. 

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That free run proved helpful, as the Reds later cut the deficit to three and forced Tyler Rogers into the game. Pitching for the seventh time in 11 days, Rogers picked up his third save of the trip and clinched Webb's third win. 

Webb came out after just 86 pitches because of some shoulder soreness, but both he and manager Gabe Kapler said they don't think it's serious. Webb got treatment and will be checked Tuesday. 

"I don't think there's much concern," Webb said. "We'll see how it goes the next two days and kind of go from there."

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