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LaMonte Wade Jr. sparks Giants early to avoid Pirates sweep

Photo credit: Christopher Mezzavilla

For five-plus innings on Sunday, there wasn’t much to see except LaMonte Wade Jr. To Wade Jr.’s credit, that was a pretty satisfying watch, and he eventually got some help in a 6-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Until the sixth, the entirety of the Giants’ offensive output — aside from a Darin Ruf single — was Wade Jr. He torched a pair of solo home runs in the first (429 feet) and third (400 feet), and used the netting en route to a double down the left-field line in the fifth.

That early showing gave San Francisco a 2-1 lead through five; Alex Wood had been snakebitten for a two-out single and RBI double to open the game.

Wood found himself frustrated again in the sixth, looking visibly upset that manager Gabe Kapler was pulling him with the bases loaded and one out as he yelled, uh… not-niceties into his mitt.

It was an odd, somewhat unfortunate inning in which he allowed a leadoff single to Bryan Reynolds, then struck out Josh Nogowski. A near-guaranteed out-turned error on a grounder to Thairo Estrada at shortstop followed, and thanks to a bobble and rushed throw which Darin Ruf couldn’t handle at first, it became a first-and-third situation. Wood then walked the bases loaded which, yes, tends to get you pulled.

But reliever Jay Jackson, in his brief but revelatory Giants stint, remained outstanding, drawing a double play to second base on that ridiculously spinny slider that’s given his career another breath of fresh air. He has still failed to relinquish a run in his six innings this season.

If you believe in momentum, then it would stand to reason that Jackson’s clutch outing was the jolt of energy the rest of the Giants’ offense needed to get going.

Wilmer Flores took up the mantle in the following half-inning with a blistered left-corner home run that got out without a moment’s notice and an almost comical distance of 370 feet.

For context, the Steven Duggar double which immediately followed was a 379-foot wallop that was rejected departure from the stadium thanks to the left-center field wall.

That sixth-inning roll continued with Thairo Estrada and Curt Casali, whose pair of singles turned a 3-1 lead — courtesy of three solo home runs— into a comfortable 5-1 lead going into the seventh.

Estrada wanted to wade (no pun intended) into the solo home run waters, too, and did so to absolute dead-center field at 402 feet in the bottom of the eighth. His jolt was preceded by a couple of stress-less innings by Jarlin Garcia in the seventh and Tyler Rogers in the eighth. Jake McGee did the honors in the ninth.

What was once a potentially stressful and embarrassing prospect of being swept by the second-worst team in the National League (now 38-61) was pretty quickly erased.

Now the Giants, currently with 2.5-game lead in the NL West, will take a day before settling in against the now Mookie Betts-less Los Angeles Dodgers, who come to town on Tuesday through Thursday.

One lingering and related note from today’s game comes from ESPN’s Jeff Passan, who reported a mid-game trade concerning Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier, who was sent literally packing in the last few innings of the game.

Passan reports that Frazier, the MLB hits leader, has been acquired by the Giants’ other division rival in the San Diego Padres. Frazier is 10-for-31 with four extra-base hits, three walks and two RBIs against San Francisco in seven games this season.


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