Webb gets his first crack at joining that elite company Tuesday night when the NL West-leading Diamondbacks continue their three-game series against the last-place San Diego Padres.
Webb (19-4, 2.74 ERA), who has already set a career high in victories, is looking to join Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling as the only 20-game winners for the Diamondbacks (68-63). Both hurlers reached the milestone from 2001-02, helping Arizona win consecutive division titles and the 2001 World Series.
The club’s current staff ace has already won a Cy Young in 2006, and has helped lead the Diamondbacks to the top of the West, three games ahead of second-place Los Angeles. He also leads the majors in wins, with one more than Cleveland’s Cliff Lee, who is scheduled to start Tuesday against Detroit.
Webb will try to continue making a case for a second Cy Young after going 8-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his last 11 starts since losing at Minnesota on June 22. The sinkerballer has won his last six outings with a 1.60 ERA.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence, especially with the guys hitting out there and playing defense behind me the way they are,” Webb said. “I’ve been able to get down in the zone, low, and get a lot of ground balls and strikeouts.”
Webb kept his winning streak intact in impressive fashion against the Padres (49-82) Thursday, as he yielded three hits with eight strikeouts in seven shutout innings of a 4-1 win—his second over San Diego this year. He held them to one unearned run and five hits in six innings of a 2-1 road win on April 27.
“He gets more people to chase pitches down in the zone, so you just have to be really patient and really selective at what you swing at,” Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said of the three-time All-Star.
Gonzalez, San Diego’s leader with 28 homers and 92 RBIs, has had success against Webb, going 11-for-31 (.355) with one homer. He went 2-for-4 Monday to improve to 10-for-20 with three RBIs in the last five meetings against Arizona as San Diego won 4-2 on Jody Gerut’s walk-off homer with two outs in the ninth inning.
The Padres, who ended a seven-game losing streak Monday, hope Chad Reineke (1-1, 4.91) can rebound from his first career loss.
The rookie right-hander started opposite Webb on Thursday, allowing three runs and five hits in six innings. That came after he posted the same line in five innings of an 8-3 win over Philadelphia in his major-league debut on Aug. 16.
“He hung in there pretty well against a guy that looks like he might be on his way to the Cy Young,” Padres manager Bud Black told the team’s official Web site. “He matched him pretty much for four innings. But he’s got a fastball that looks like it’s got a little bit of late life to it, and pretty good action on the slider. He threw a few good changeups, too.
“He hung in there and battled. He looks to be a guy that his concentration level is pretty high and looks to be focused pitch to pitch.”