October 2, 2022

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Vosler shines, Webb grinds and Estrada keeps producing

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants are far from full strength right now, yet their depleted roster managed to brush off Friday’s blowout loss and rebound with a 9-3 win over the Nationals on Saturday afternoon at Oracle Park.  

Jason Vosler homered for the second time in as many days, and Thairo Estrada knocked in three runs for the Giants, who will have a chance to clinch a series win on Sunday behind veteran right-hander Alex Cobb. 

Cobb is expected to come off the injured list and make his first start since suffering a Grade 1 adductor strain at Citi Field on April 19, becoming the first in what the Giants hope will be a long line of reinforcements who are slated to arrive in the near future. Mike Yastrzemski, LaMonte Wade Jr., Evan Longoria and Tommy La Stella aren’t too far behind, stoking plenty of optimism for the Giants as they prepare to turn the calendar to May.

Here are three takeaways as the Giants closed out their April slate with a 14-7 mark:

1. Webb grinds through another quality start
It wasn’t the crispest of days for Logan Webb, but the 25-year-old right-hander managed to pick up his second consecutive win over the Nationals by holding them to three runs on 11 hits — the most he’s ever allowed in a start — over six innings in his fifth outing of the year.

Webb had to navigate several high-stress innings, as the Nationals put at least one runner on base in five of his six frames. Washington took a 2-0 lead behind back-to-back RBI doubles by Alcides Escobar and César Hernández in the third, but right fielder Luis González managed to save a run by throwing out Hernández at home when he tried to score on Josh Bell’s one-out single.

The only other damage came in the sixth, when Webb surrendered a two-out RBI single to Victor Robles that cut the Giants’ lead to 4-3. Manager Gabe Kapler jogged out for a mound visit, but he decided to leave his young ace in to face Escobar, who grounded out to cap Webb’s 95-pitch outing.

“Webb grinded today,” Kapler said. “I don’t think he has the type of finish that he wants right now on his pitches. I think as a result, there are just more balls in play and you’re seeing more hits than you normally see against Webb. But he’s still the same guy with the same movement profiles. When he gets in the strike zone with his pitches, he’s going to get weak contact. He was still able to do that and give us a good performance.”

Webb said he plans to review video footage on Sunday to try to fix a mechanical issue that pitching coach Andrew Bailey may have identified after the game. He also admitted that the shortened spring and his heavy workload this month are taking a toll on him and potentially affecting his effectiveness on the mound.

“I would say that it’s mechanics and partially my body not feeling the best right now because of the quick spring,” Webb said. “A lot of innings kind of early, the long road trip. But everyone is going through it. That could possibly be why the mechanics are off. We’re going to look at it.”

2. Durable Estrada keeps producing
Estrada has been the lone Giant to play every inning of every game so far this season, yet the 26-year-old second baseman hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Estrada delivered a clutch two-out, two-run double off Nationals right-hander Joan Adon that tied the game, 2-2, in the third and then put the Giants ahead by beating out a potential double-play ball with the bases loaded in the fifth.

Estrada has recorded a .641 OPS with two homers over 21 games this year, but he leads the Giants with 14 RBIs and ranks second with three steals.

“I think what stands out to me most about Estrada’s performance so far this year is his durability,” Kapler said. “We knew that this was going to be a challenge early in the season and that Tommy [La Stella] wasn’t going to be there to take down the toughest right-handed pitchers. Estrada’s just been out there every inning of every game, essentially, and with that has come some really difficult matchups and some moments where his body has taken a beating.

“He’s diving all over the place and running the bases, stealing bases and extra-base hits and all of that. That’s a lot of volume for a young player who hasn’t really done that at the Major League level in his career to date. He’s just been incredibly prepared and diligent and durable.”

3. Vosler’s splash hit
With five left-handed hitters on the IL and a sixth, Joc Pederson, hobbled by a right adductor strain, the Giants have been distributing more playing time to Vosler, who started at third base and delivered his first career splash hit with a towering solo shot that sparked a four-run rally in the sixth. Vosler’s second homer of the series marked the 92nd splash hit by a Giant and the first since Wade on Sept. 17, 2021.

“That was really cool,” Vosler said. “It’s not necessarily something I think about. But to do it and see the number change to 92 and to realize it’s only been done 92 times is a really special feeling.”

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