Jordan Hicks

Giants' Hicks pinpoints biggest hurdle he faces amid winless streak

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Even as Jordan Hicks logs more innings than he ever previously has in the majors, the Giants reliever-turned-starter still believes he’s pitching well and is confident in what he’s throwing.

The occasional mental lapses that seem to keep cropping up are what’s really bugging Hicks.

Even after a fairly solid start in San Francisco's 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday at Truist Park, Hicks blamed his focus – or lack thereof – as being the biggest hurdle he has to overcome.

“It’s been about two-out execution the last two games. I’ve given up six runs on two-out rallies” Hicks told reporters in Georgia. “[In] those later innings, I just need to find a way to bear down and get that third out after two quick ones. That’s the biggest thing.”

Hicks had a pretty decent line against the Braves, although he surrendered three runs in five innings. The 27-year-old had six strikeouts and two walks while generating a very impressive 17 swing-and-misses among his 89 pitches.

With a lineup loaded with heavy hitters, Atlanta scored its first run in the second inning before Hicks and the Giants could record an out.

Hicks kept the Braves silent in the third and fourth before they scored twice in the fifth. Hicks retired the first two batters of that inning on a swinging strikeout and flyout, then gave up four consecutive two-out hits that put Atlanta ahead 3-0.

It would have been worse had the Giants not challenged a play at the plate, which originally was ruled in the Braves’ favor until San Francisco manager Bob Melvin challenged the call and got it overturned by replay.

Melvin said that in this case, Hicks’ numbers were misleading.

“When you give up three runs and only get four hits and score one, it doesn’t look great,” Melvin said “But it’s not like he pitched poorly.”

Hicks has gone eight starts since he last won on May 19. He has a 5.01 ERA during that stretch, which has led to some speculation that Hicks might be wearing down.

Including Wednesday’s start, Hicks has piled up 90 2/3 innings during the 2024 MLB season. That’s far and away the most innings that he has pitched since he put up 77 2/3 innings in 2018 as a rookie reliever with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The last time that Hicks was able to go beyond five innings was May 21, when he pitched 5 1/3 innings and took the loss against the New York Yankees.

Rather than blame it on the heavy workload, Hicks instead pointed the finger at himself for a lack of concentration in key situations.

“I don’t think there’s anything with my stuff. It’s more just being aware that this is when it’s happening,” Hicks said of problems closing out innings after getting the first two outs. “Obviously it’s something with my focus. I need to lock in better or I need to make some better quality pitches when I know the game’s on the line with two outs.

“Instead of maybe backing off, just stay on the gas.”

Hicks seems to be running on fumes already, so it will be intriguing to see what he does the remainder of the season with whatever he has left in the tank.

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