Last night’s 4-0 domination of the Dodgers was a great start! Here are three thoughts from the game…
(1) The moment was not too big for Logan Webb and Camilo Doval
When I saw that Webb was the game 1 starter and Kevin Gausman would get game 2, it made total sense from a performance stand point. Gausman was outstanding in the first half of the season, Webb dominated the second (while Gausman faded a bit). But, I was mildly concerned about how Webb would respond to the spotlight and pressure of the NLDS. Yes, the Giants had to hold off the Dodgers until the very last day, but it never felt like a pressure cooker of a pennant race. That all changed last night.
Webb, though, pitched brilliantly, his stuff was nasty, but even more than that he acted as if he’d been there before. Many times. Completely undaunted and unfazed.
In a similar vein while many Giants fans were pushing for Camilo Doval to be the closer (his 101 mph fastballs are something to behold) over the Jake McGee experience, McGee is a veteran who has been here before (namely last year with these very Dodgers). It makes all the sense in the world to go with the old hand, but Kapler went straight to Doval for the 9th inning. Granted it was not a “save” opportunity, but 4 runs is striking distance for these Dodgers and if this got messy, even in a win, it would be a step back for the team. It also seemed like a good low-stakes opportunity to get McGee back into game action.
Dovall was so good, you might have actually missed his appearance. Like many of the Dodger’s at bats, it was over quickly and with low drama.
Both young pitchers were completely up for the challenge of Game 1 and it was beautiful to see.
(2) The Giants defense was outstanding
Another mild concern entering the series was the defense. Overall the Giants had a very good defensive year, but with matchups, injuries (primarily Brandon Belt), and, again, the pressure cooker of the playoffs, I had questions. Will second base be a liability? Will Wilmer Flores, et al, be able to handle fist base? Will Kris Bryant step up after a lackluster 2 months for the Giants? Will Kapler need to sacrifice offense for defense in the outfield (playing Steven Dugger more than, say, LaMonte Wade Jr)?
The Giants did make 2 “errors” both of which involved Logan Webb, and neither of which hurt them at all. Otherwise Flores made a couple nice plays, Bryant was totally fine, and La Stella made one of the plays of the year on an awesome double play. The defense passed the first test.
(3) Buster Posey was the story of the game
Yes, he hit a HUGE home run in the first inning that absolutely helped set the tone for the night (and proved to be the winning run). But I thought the story of the night was the way he handled and controlled the game from behind the plate. It was a master class in catching and calling a game.
This is not to take anything away from Logan Webb. The dude was awesome and he had to execute the game plan. But, Posey immediately noticed the Dodgers were aggressive early in the count, looking for fastballs, and wanting to avoid the slider, so they adjusted and Webb threw 38 change ups, a season high. It was a beautiful thing to watch.
(Extra) Don’t sleep on Kris Bryant going 3-3 with that home run that extended the lead to 3-0. He did all that damage against Walker Buehler and if he gets hot, this lineup gets REALLY dangerous.
There have been three playoff outings ever from a San Francisco Giants pitcher with at least 7.2 innings, 0 runs and 10+ strikeouts.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 9, 2021
Tim Lincecum, Game 1, 2010 NLDS vs. Atlanta
Madison Bumgarner, 2014 wild card game vs. Pittsburgh
Logan Webb, Game 1, 2021 NLDS vs. Los Angeles