What we learned as Chapman's grand slam fuels Giants' win vs. Reds

What we learned as Chapman's grand slam fuels Giants' win vs. Reds originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area


SAN FRANCISCO – Matt Chapman ended his extended power slump with a first-inning grand slam, and the scuffling Giants won for the fifth time in 12 games with a 5-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday at Oracle Park.

Patrick Bailey, back in the lineup after being activated from the concussion list, added a single and sacrifice fly.

Taylor Rogers (1-1) retired two batters and got the win in relief of starter Mason Black. Rogers, the first of five relievers called on by manager Bob Melvin on Saturday, pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth when the Reds mounted one of their best threats of the afternoon.

One game obviously is a small sample, but given the Giants’ scoring problems all season, it’s an encouraging sign that things might be starting to turn around.

LaMonte Wade Jr. got the day rolling for San Francisco when he lasered a one-out single up the middle in the first inning. Bailey followed with a soft hit to left. After Wilmer Flores struck out swinging, Chapman slammed a 1-2 fastball over the fence in left-center field for his second career grand slam.

Chapman’s home run was only the fourth time this season that the Giants have gone deep in the first inning.

San Francisco, however, couldn’t take off after that, forcing the crowd of 37,321 to hold its collective breath over the final eight innings

The news wasn’t all good.

Already riddled with injuries, the Giants lost outfielder Michael Conforto to a strained right hamstring. Conforto started in left field and singled in two at-bats before coming out before the fifth inning.

The Giants had another scary moment in the seventh inning when Wade was hit in his right shoulder by an 86.9-mph sinker from Reds reliever Brent Suter. Although the ball appeared close to hitting Wade in the head, it hit his shoulder and Wade remained down for several moments before getting to his feet and walking to first base.

Even that wasn’t enough to take the shine away from San Francisco’s much-needed win.

Here are the takeaways from Saturday’s game:

Ending The Drought

The Giants have been looking for someone to give their offense a spark. Chapman’s big hit in the first inning might have done just that.

Chapman has been the target of much of the criticism over the Giants’ lackluster offense, and for good reason. The third baseman went into Saturday with a .205 batting average and had only seven hits in his previous 12 games.

The narrative about Chapman’s struggles changed quickly when he crushed a fastball from Reds starter Nick Lodolo (3-2) in the first inning that put San Francisco ahead for good. It was Chapman’s fifth home run of the season and first since April 16.

Chapman has been showing hints of breaking out of his funk, and the home run was the latest sign that things are going in the right direction. On Friday, Chapman squared up on a couple of pitches and made solid swings but didn’t have much to show for it.

Don't Test Heliot

Heliot Ramos might still be trying to find his rhythm at the plate, but defensively, the young outfielder is just fine.

The Reds tried to test Heliot’s arm in back-to-back innings while attempting to stretch singles into doubles. Both times Ramos made outstanding plays to shut Cincinnati down.

That marked the first time in nearly two full seasons that a Giants outfielder made two assists in the same game. Mike Yastrzemski did it against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 15, 2022.

After being moved to left field in the fifth inning, Ramos robbed Will Benson of a hit with a tumbling catch. Benson was also the runner that Ramos threw out in the third inning.

Not to be out-done, Yastrzemski got in on the act when he threw out Jeimer Candelario from right field when Candelario tried to stretch a single into a double in the sixth.

Black's Debut

Black pitched decently, but wasn’t around long and left with a no-decision in his Oracle Park debut.

The Giants’ rookie right-hander lasted 4 1/3 innings and allowed one run and four hits while throwing 78 pitches, 51 for strikes. Black had two strikeouts and two walks, his lone mistake coming in the fourth when he left a fastball over the outside of the plate that Elly De La Cruz blasted for his ninth home run of the season.

With uncertainty still surrounding Blake Snell’s return, Black likely will get another start or two. If he does, the 24-year-old has to prove that he can pitch deeper into games. He has good stuff but, like Saturday, has had to pitch around a lot of traffic.

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