By Morris Phillips
As often happens, the decision to lift an effective, but laboring starting pitcher can be agonizing.
The decision to remove Logan Webb in the eighth inning on Wednesday was a no-win for the Giants and manager Gabe Kapler. Literally.
Trailing 3-2 to the Giants, and facing the likelihood of a record, 13th consecutive loss to their division rivals, the host Rockies rallied with three runs to gain a critical 5-3 win.
Connor Joe drew a leadoff walk against Webb, ending his streak of 16 consecutive, retired hitters, and that opened the door for Colorado. With Webb at 100 pitches, Kapler decided to remove his starter for reliever Jose Alvarez.
“After the second, which I thought was the more challenging inning, (Webb) was as good as we saw last year,” Kapler said. “This is a very, very challenging place to pitch into the eighth inning. I thought it was one of the better performances in recent memory for Logan.”
It also wasn’t the spot to lean heavily on his ace, thought Kapler. This early in the season, and with an effective bullpen cast ready to go. A two-run lead also provided Alvarez, who hadn’t given up a home run in more than 56 innings of work, a nice cushion.
But Charlie Blackmon sacrificed Joe to second, Yonathan Daza followed with an RBI single and C.J. Cron gave the Rockies a two-run lead with his long home run off Alvarez.
“We’d done a nice job up until that point with Cron,” Kapler said. “He hasn’t taken his best swings against us, which I think is a positive for our pitching staff. It’s really tough to fall behind him. He then is able to sit on a pitch like he did right there, and look, he’s one of the better right-handed hitters in baseball.”
Tyler Kinley retired the Giants in the eighth, and Daniel Bard recovered from a blown save on Monday to get the visitors out in the ninth, ending an agonizing slide for the Rockies, who were also trying to avoid a fourth straight loss overall.
The Giants concluded their road swing with a 3-3 record through Denver and St. Louis. They open a homestand on Friday night against the Padres.
Mike Yastrzemski had an RBI single on Wednesday and Austin Slater and Darin Ruf contributed run scoring, sacrifice flies. Ruf put the Giants in front in the fourth, and Webb cruised into the eighth. But it wasn’t enough to earn the Giants a sweep.
Sean Manaea gets the start for San Diego on Friday, and Jakob Junis goes for the Giants as they continue to utilize a bullpen strategy in the absence of injured starter Anthony DeSclafani.