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Chaos in the Steel City: Takeaways from a wild back-and-forth series in Pittsburgh



As the Giants trudged off the field on Tuesday night while the Pirates danced in jubilation, the likelihood that the three-game trip to Pittsburgh would be considered a success seemed slim-to-none. When they trailed 5-0 in the fifth inning on Wednesday, it seemed like an impossibility. Fast forward about 18 hours, and somehow San Francisco won the series and can leave the Steel City feeling pretty good about itself. 

The G-Men rebounded from that terrible Tuesday blown lead with a pair of improbable comebacks of their own. In each of the three games in this series, a team trailing by four-plus runs won the game. It won’t always be this wild, but to leave such a series with momentum is huge. Sit back, catch your breath, and enjoy your Thursday night. Here are six takeaways from an absolutely wild three game set in Pittsburgh. 

May 23, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; San Francisco Giants second baseman Thairo Estrada (39) greets third baseman Matt Chapman (26) at home plate on a three run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Giants won 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Matt Chapman praise should be as loud as the slander

Don’t beat yourself up if you were one of the many fans lamenting the early season performance of veteran third baseman Matt Chapman. It was probably deserved. His first six weeks were nothing close to the production the Giants paid for. The last two series, however, he’s looked like an MVP — with the bat and with the glove. He clubbed three homers in Pittsburgh, two of which keyed Wednesday and Thursday’s comeback efforts. Defensively, he made a signature play deep down the line at third base to end Wednesday’s game. His sliding stop and near 200 foot cannon across the diamond should remind fans of similar plays he would make in green and gold. Patience is a virtue, Giants fans. Remember this week the next time he struggles. 

Lamonte Wade just gets on base 

Who leads the National League in OBP by a wide margin two months into the season? It’s not Shoehei Ohtani, Mookie Betts, Matt Olson, Ronald Acuña or any other perennial All-Star. It’s ‘Late Night’ Lamonte. The Giants’ first basemen is an on-base machine, and that doesn’t even account for his clutch gene that earned him the aforementioned moniker. He’s reaching base 48% of the time, a .481 mark 50 points ahead of the next eligible player. It’s certainly not far-fetched to think that Wade Jr. may be in Texas in July representing the Giants at the MLB All-Star Game. 

Bob Melvin needs more consistency out of his bullpen

Seeing Luke Jackson jog across the outfield from the visitors’ bullpen with a four-run ninth inning lead on Tuesday night shouldn’t have given Giants’ fans pause, but it did. Even with a comfortable cushion, the safety of the lead was quickly put in limbo by Jackson. Camilo Doval shouldn’t have needed to pitch in a four-run game, but he should have been sharper when he did get called upon. While there have been plenty of positives regarding individual performances in the pen this season, the unit needs to be better in the middle innings. If Melvin can identify a path to the ninth inning sooner rather than later, it will all but eliminate losses like Tuesday’s. 

The youth giveth, and the youth taketh away 

After a scintillating weekend against the Rockies, it was easy to be incredibly high on the Giants’ stable of young players. Make no mistake, that’s still the right stance. Although Luis Matos inevitably cooled off in comparison to his monster Colorado series, he continued to shine in Pittsburgh. Matos roped a double to left center in the ninth inning on Wednesday with two outs and the bases empty. It was a clinic of aggressive base-running, as Matos took second after a bobble in left field thanks to a clinical hustle out of the box and a textbook turn at first base. Heliot Ramos homered on Thursday and continues to show he has no interest in being in the minor leagues. The negatives came on the defensive side of the ball from Marco Luciano. He made a key error in the disastrous bottom of the ninth on Tuesday, turning a likely game-ending double play into a boot. The Pirates would go on to win. Luciano also made another error on Thursday. As Mike Krukow said on Wednesday morning with Murph and Markus, these are growing pains for young players. 

Former Giants make statement

For Bryan Reynolds, Connor Joe and Joey Bart, it’s personal when the Pirates play the Giants. Although Reynolds was never a big league Giant, he was dealt in 2018 as a highly favored farm hand when the Giants acquired Andrew McCutchen from the Pirates. It’s safe to say the Pirates came out on the winning end of that trade. In this series, Reynolds made his mark with two home runs, one of which was a grand slam, and seven total RBIs. That’s on top of a two-run extra inning bomb he logged when the Pirates were in San Francisco in April. Joey Bart launched a grand slam of his own on Thursday. The Giants were completely in the right to cut ties with Bart earlier this season, but watching the former No. 2 overall pick circle the bags on Thursday still stung. 

This team fights

After the gut-wrenching ninth inning collapse on Tuesday, and a 5-0 deficit in the middle innings on Wednesday, it would have been easy for the Giants to fold. It speaks volumes to the character of this team that it did the opposite. The emotions of fans and pundits can often be erratic and reactionary. For what felt like the fifth time this season, the sky was falling on the 2024 Giants before they came back to win with impressive comebacks on both Wednesday and Thursday. Sure, they lost a game they absolutely should have won on Tuesday. But the series ended in a net positive after they won two games they probably should have lost. That’s a big step towards developing a positive identity.