Ross Stripling

Giants' Stripling finds silver lining in bizarre Rays homer

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Ross Stripling is a positive person, so he tried to find a silver lining in one of the weirdest home runs in Oracle Park's history. 

Luke Raley's inside-the-park homer in the sixth inning Wednesday bounced off the bricks in right-center and then off the top of the padding in front of the visiting bullpen before skipping down the warning track with such velocity that Raley cruised home. After the game, Stripling said his dad texted him that maybe the homer was so weird it'll finally turn his batted ball luck.

"Maybe it's one like that that ends the home run curse I've been going through," Stripling said. "Hopefully that's the case. I would assume it's the first (inside-the-park homer) that I've given up, I can't remember any others. Those are always kinda funky. I'm sure it's all over social media and stuff like that, but hopefully, it ended the home-run run that I've been on."

The homer was the third in three innings against Stripling, who now has surrendered 20 in 78 1/3 innings overall this season. His home run rate is the highest in the Majors and he leads the team in homers allowed despite being fifth in innings. The three latest ones contributed to a 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays as the Giants dropped a fourth consecutive series. 

"More of the same, man," Stripling said. 

The right-hander is hoping the same isn't true of his back. He felt some tightness on Wednesday and his velocity was down a tick, but Stripling didn't think it was serious. He missed time earlier this year with a lower back strain.

While the homers have piled up, Stripling did set a San Francisco-era franchise mark by going 169 consecutive batters without issuing a walk. He generally has pitched well since coming off the IL and is the closest thing the Giants have to a No. 3 starter. 

--- A sprint speed of 30 feet-per-second is considered elite, so it certainly stood out when Wade Meckler hit 30.5 on his infield single Tuesday night. He joined Bryce Johnson as the only Giants to run at least 30 feet-per-second this year, but unlike Johnson, Meckler isn't known for using that speed on the bases. 

Meckler attempted just 12 stolen bases in the minor leagues and was successful eight times. He had a .546 OBP in 10 Triple-A games but never attempted to steal, and if you go back to his Oregon State days, the trend is the same. 

Meckler showed some self-awareness when explaining the two reasons he doesn't run much. He doesn't think he gets very good jumps because his first step isn't where it should be, and he doesn't think it's a good idea to run when his percentage wasn't very high in the low minors. He also has a plan.

"It's something I have to address in the offseason and will," he said. 

Meckler hit leadoff on Wednesday, so the Giants are already throwing a lot at a 23-year-old with fewer than 100 games of professional experience. But you can bet he'll go into the offseason with a blueprint for how to improve his running mechanics, and it should be an emphasis next spring. 

"I want to see it up close with Meck and see the instincts he has," manager Gabe Kapler said. "Mechanically, I think we're going to be able to make an impact."

--- Last year, Vaun Brown was Meckler. He had a 1.059 OPS in his first pro season, going from mid-round pick to well-known prospect. But Brown's 2023 season is now over.

The 25-year-old outfielder was hit by a pitch on Aug. 2 and suffered a fibula fracture that put him on the IL in Double-A. It's minor enough that the Giants are hopeful Brown can make up some at-bats in the Arizona Fall League, but it's more bad luck for a player who once looked poised to debut this season.

Brown missed the start of the year with knee discomfort and ended up playing just 59 minor league games. He posted a .752 OPS, nine homers and was a perfect 20-for-20 on the bases. 

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