Excitement over future turns to concern as Giants lose key reliever in defeat

The Giants lost reliever Reyes Moronta to an apparent arm injury in the sixth inning on Saturday

San Francisco Giants pitcher Logan Webb works against the San Diego Padres during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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SAN FRANCISCO — A promising night for the future of the Giants’ pitching staff turned into an evening filled with concern and anxiety shortly after rookie starter Logan Webb exited the game.

Right-handed set-up man Reyes Moronta exited with a shoulder injury in the top of the sixth as the reliever crumpled to the grass in front of the mound after throwing a 97.5-mile per hour fastball to Padres shortstop Luis Urias.

A few innings after losing Moronta to injury, the Giants (66-69) lost the game to the Padres.

“All I can give you is an acute right shoulder strain,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Moronta’s injury. “We’re going to get a MRI tomorrow.”

San Diego third baseman Manny Machado hit a leadoff triple to open the eighth inning against Giants lefty Tony Watson and scored the go-ahead run in a 4-1 Giants defeat on a one-out single from right fielder Josh Naylor.

Padres left fielder Wil Myers helped put the game away for San Diego with a two-run home run off Giants closer Will Smith in the top of the ninth.

With four weeks left in the season, the Giants are becoming less enthralled with a miracle run to the postseason and more determined to find out which young players can be counted on to contribute in 2020.

In Saturday’s game against the Padres, they were encouraged by what they saw from Webb and discouraged by the sight of Moronta falling to the ground in pain.

“He’s going to be down I’m sure for awhile,” Bochy said.

After throwing his third pitch in relief of Webb, Moronta fell to his knees, turned over and received immediate medical attention from head athletic trainer Anthony Reyes. Moronta exited the field under his own power, but he appeared to be in significant pain as he walked into the Giants’ dugout.

“It’s not the elbow, it’s the shoulder,” Bochy said. “There’s no question it’s concern, especially when you’re calling it an acute right shoulder strain. We just have to wait to get the results from the MRI.”

Right-hander Tyler Rogers came on to replace Moronta and helped the Giants preserve a 1-1 tie before Rogers retired the Padres in order in the top of the seventh. The Giants had a chance to take the lead and potentially make Rogers a winner for the first time in his third major league appearance, but shortstop Mauricio Dubón bounced into a double play with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the sixth.

Webb took the mound at Oracle Park for the first time on Saturday after making the first two starts of his career on the road. The right-hander wasted little time making a strong impression on Giants fans as he tossed 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball while striking out seven Padres hitters.

“(My nerves) were up there, it was probably the same as the one in Oakland too,” Webb said. “It was good nerves. It was bad nerves. I was excited.”

The rookie didn’t receive much run support, but he did pitch with a lead for most of the night as Austin Slater gave the Giants a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

Slater blasted an 0-2 mistake from Padres starter Joey Lucchesi over the center field wall for his fifth home run of the season on a solo shot that traveled 411 feet. Despite spending most of the first half of the year at Triple-A, Slater’s plate appearances this summer have given the Giants confidence he can contribute in a significant role beyond 2019 thanks to his consistent success against left-handed pitchers.

After just three starts, Webb is on a solid track, too.

The Rocklin, Calif. native encountered immediate trouble in the top of the first inning after center fielder Kevin Pillar had difficulty tracking a Manny Machado line drive in the San Francisco sun. A batted ball that could have been a routine lineout instead resulted in a single and forced Webb to pitch with runners on first and third and just one out.

The rookie showed impressive poise, striking out Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer with a slider before picking up his third punchout of the inning with a 94-mile per hour fastball he blew past right fielder Josh Naylor.

Webb’s best sequence of the evening came in the top of the sixth when he induced three whiffs on three sliders against Machado, a four-time All-Star who entered the game with 28 home runs this season.

Webb nearly posted the first quality start of his career, but a two-out double from Naylor and a Manuel Margot single led to the Padres’ first run in the top of the sixth and led Bochy to call on Moronta out of the bullpen.

“Good poise out there, good stuff, he gave us a really quality start looking at it,” Bochy said.

Webb was frustrated he allowed back-to-back hits and a run in the top of the sixth, but when he walked off the field, he received a standing ovation from the crowd behind the Giants’ third base dugout.

“I think growing up as a kid, that’s what you one day hope to see,” Webb said. “It was pretty cool.”

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