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Giants' series-opening loss to Padres had a silver lining

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Logan Webb pitching

A 3-2 loss in the first game of a three-game series with the preseason darling San Diego Padres deflated the Giants' dugout, but there were two big positives to take away from this night. 

First, the Giants still finished the month of April with the best record in the National League. At 16-10, they lead what they hope will be a very tight race this summer with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Padres. 

The second big positive came during the first six innings of the loss. Logan Webb went seven shutout innings over the weekend, but Friday's performance was even better given the opponent.

The biggest surprise of April was how dominant Giants starting pitching was, but the group wasn't tested that often. Webb's previous start came against a light-hitting Marlins lineup, but on Friday he faced the Padres at full strength and had his way with them until one misplaced pitch. 

Webb gave up three earned runs, but he was sharper with his command, had his best fastball velocity of the season, and baffled some good hitters with his changeup. Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado both swung over the top of the pitch in the first. 

"That was a great outing for Logan," manager Gabe Kapler said. "Interestingly, I thought he executed better in this outing than he did in the last one. Obviously the results weren't as good and that's the game of baseball. It's not always fair, but I thought he attacked the strike zone better, really did a nice job with some of their best hitters, used all three of his pitches, and mixed them appropriately. It was a good outing."

 

Webb is always hard on himself after losses, but he admitted this was the best he felt with all of his pitches this year. Webb threw 47 fastballs -- topping out at 95 mph -- 33 changeups and 13 sliders. 

"It's tough because that was the best I've felt all year. I thought that was the best my stuff has been," Webb said. "There were a couple of two-strike hits that honestly weren't bad pitches, they just kinda made decent swings on, and then the last two hits I gave up really, really sucked. That's what I'm remembering. I've just got to be better at the end of that game. Kap showed that he trusted me and he wanted me in there and that was my thinking, too. Just couldn't get it done. It's frustrating."

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Webb paid for a two-strike fastball that was across the heart of the plate and driven into center for a two-run single, the difference in the game. But if he keeps pitching like this, he'll get plenty of opportunities to finish off his nights on a high note. 

Webb took the loss in part because the Giants couldn't rally late when they twice had the bases loaded. They scored just one run in those two innings, missing a grand slam when Darin Ruf's drive went inches foul. The offensive issues led to the loss, but there's a silver lining. If the Giants keep getting starting pitching like this, they're going to hang around the race much longer than anyone outside the building expected.

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