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The Quest for .500: Four Giants takeaways after series win



A Major League baseball season is very long. 162 games is a marathon that will inevitably feature peaks and valleys. However long it may be, it always seems a bit shorter when a team struggles out of the gate. Such has been the case for these Giants, who by all accounts are playing better currently than they were in April. But that poor April has left them in purgatory as the team creeps into Summer. Seemingly always at or just below the .500 mark, Bob Melvin’s squad has been struggling to get back above that even mark for much of the last month. 

Now with back to back series wins, the squad is back to just one game below as the toothless Angels come to town for a weekend three game set. Here are four thoughts on the water-treading orange and black. 

We all owe the bullpen an apology

The Giants bullpen, specifically its stable of middle relievers, has been much maligned through the first two months of the 2024 campaign. But of late? That group has inarguably been one of the strengths of the club. In all three games in Texas over the weekend, The bullpen was airtight, not allowing a single Rangers run in the series even in a lopsided loss on Sunday. On Monday night, the bullpen was again stellar outside of the 10th inning. One of two runs scored in that frame was the ghost runner, so the line looks worse than the outing actually was. On Wednesday afternoon, The pen was again perfect in the final three innings. Ryan Walker, Tyler Rogers and Camilo Doval slammed the door on the Astros with three scoreless frames that secured a win for Logan Webb. 

Slater is still capable of impactful big league production

Any sane criticism of the move to demote Luis Matos in favor of the returning Austin Slater acknowledged this. Slater, much like Brandon Belt, is of course capable of getting red hot at the drop of the hat. He’s also shown that, much like Brandon Belt, he can go dormant for painfully significant stretches. This afternoon, Slater singled in each of his first three at bats and played a huge role in the win. He drove in four in two games against Houston, and emphatically ended Monday night’s comeback win with a screaming line drive off the wall in the bottom of the 10th. 

The fan base was largely split on the decision to option a struggling Matos for Slater last week. The nuance involved with evaluating the decision must take into account that while the front office and the fans know that what Slater brings is often volatile, it’s not an unknown. The trials and tribulations of a young player like Matos are much more of a mystery. This team is still focused on winning right now, and it can’t afford to let Matos figure things out if that learning curve is scarcely producing at the big league level. Plus, Giants fans, Heliot Ramos is showing us that a longer stay in Triple-A can often be the answer for position players that don’t immediately succeed at the Big League level. 

Lamonte Wade Jr. fighting back 

Andrew Baggarly joined Murph and Markus on Wednesday morning. He provided an update on Lamonte Wade Jr. and his injured hamstring, one that didn’t inspire confidence at the time. 

“He’s not close. All of the boxes he’s still gotta check are still out there,” Baggarly reported to the KNBR morning show hosts. 

A week from Thursday, the Giants will take on the Cardinals at historic Rickwood field in Birmingham, Alabama. One of the oldest ballparks in the United States, Rickwood is a baseball cathedral rich with history. Wade has long expressed excitement for this event. As one of the Giants’ only active African-American players, the prospect of playing in a stadium that was a landmark Negro League destination is obviously meaningful.

“Unless he has a miraculous recovery, the Rickwood game is going to be out. And that’s almost devastating that he won’t be able to play in that as much as it meant to him.”

Baggs had more optimistic news just a few hours later, when he tweeted that Wade Jr. was on the field pregame taking ground balls and doing some “light running.”  Let’s hope he is healthy enough to get rostered for that game, even if it is just as a DH. 

Soler showing signs of life

Jorge Soler’s Giants tenure got off to about as bad a start as anyone could have imagined. The big ticket offseason signing is currently hitting just .217 with an ugly .662 OPS. He’s been especially bad in run scoring opportunities, driving in just 18 runs. With that being said, Soler has been objectively better over the last handful of series. He’s hitting the ball harder more consistently, and is getting aboard at a better clip. The RBI numbers are still low, but there’s reason to be optimistic. When he gets hot and hits tape measure blasts with men on base, we’re all going to feel like Andy Dufresne standing in the rain.