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Blue Jays send Logan Webb into All-Star Game on sour note

Ernie Clement #28 of the Toronto Blue Jays trots around the bases after hitting a three-run home run off of Logan Webb #62 of the San Francisco Giants in the top of the fifth inning at Oracle Park on July 10, 2024 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO — A lot has changed since Logan Webb was a 22-year-old rookie in 2019.

The Giants’ roster has been churned to such a degree that Webb is one of only three players, along with Mike Yastrzemski and Tyler Rogers, who remain on the team. The personal growth Webb has accomplished over those four-plus years transformed him into the Giants’ ace in 2021 and into an All-Star for the first time this season.

But, in his final start before jetting off to Arlington, Texas, for the 94th midsummer classic, Webb provided a reason to think back to 2019.

Handed a 10-6 loss by the Blue Jays, Webb’s pitching line featured a seven in the run column for only the second time in his career. The only other time the right-handed sinkerballer had been hit around so hard was September 5, 2019, when he was tagged for eight (seven earned) in a 10-0 loss in St. Louis.

It was a difficult outcome to envision as Webb walked back to the dugout after a nine-pitch fourth inning, holding a 2-0 lead. He had exhausted only 42 total pitches and allowed one runner to reach base, while his offense had forced Toronto starter Chris Bassitt to labor through 30-plus pitches in each of the first two innings.

“It’s one of those games where it’s just baseball sometimes and you can’t explain it,” manager Bob Melvin said.

It started to go south when the second batter of the fifth inning, Davis Schneider, laced a single into right field that proved to be the beginning of the end for Webb. He would allow eight of the final 10 batters he faced to reach base, with a three-run homer from newly minted Giant killer Ernie Clement and a two-run double from George Springer responsible for the bulk of the damage on the scoreboard.

“I got mad after the Schneider base hit,” Webb said. “That’s never a good thing to do when you’re out there. I kind of just let it snowball after that.”

Clement, on his third team in four seasons, went about six inches below the strike zone to whack a two-strike changeup over the left-field wall in the fifth inning, flipping a 2-0 Giants advantage into a 3-2 deficit. Despite seven major-league home runs to his name entering the series, the 28-year-old journeyman has left the yard twice in two games, recorded three hits Wednesday and had the section of Blue Jays fans behind the first-base dugout chanting his first name.

“The homer changed some things,” Melvin said. “He didn’t execute pitches like he was doing earlier.”

The Giants evened the score at 3 in the bottom half, courtesy of Michael Conforto, who doubled home Patrick Bailey, but the wheels came off when Webb took the mound again to begin the sixth. The Blue Jays plated six more runs, all but two charged to Webb, to blow the game open.

Patrick Bailey and Matt Chapman clawed back two runs in the bottom of the ninth with back-to-back solo shots, but the Blue Jays’ big inning proved too much to overcome.

“A couple hits and a homer can change things in a hurry,” Melvin said. “We score a couple runs (in the first) and feel pretty good about (Webb) pitching deep in that game. … It was a complete flip. It looked like we had a chance to get (Bassitt) out of there after the third inning. All of a sudden it turned around on his end and he ended up going five innings and Logan ended up going five innings.”

When Melvin came to get Webb with two runs already in, two men on base and nobody out in the sixth, it snapped a streak of 11 straight starts of six or more innings.

Ending his first half of the season with four games left on the Giants’ schedule, Webb extended his advantage atop the National League leaderboard of innings pitched, increasing his total to 124⅓ through 20 starts, but saw his ERA spike to 3.47, tied for 14th in the NL, from 3.09 entering his start.

When the Giants wrap up the first half Sunday, Webb and Heliot Ramos will make their way to Texas as the Giants’ two All-Star representatives. For the first time since 2021, Webb wasn’t tasked with making the final start of the first half, which should make him available to National League manager Torey Lovullo.

“I’m excited,” Webb said. “Not as excited right now, to be honest with you.”

Because of the way the schedule lines up, even if he appears in the game, it should amount to a well-deserved break for the majors’ top workhorse since the start of 2022. Webb’s 532⅔ innings in that span are 20 more than the next-closest pitcher, the Phillies’ Aaron Nola.

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