Mason Black

Black offers brief relief for Giants' rotation gap in win over Reds

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SAN FRANCISCO – Mason Black felt a lot more comfortable taking the mound Saturday afternoon at Oracle Park than he was earlier in the week when he made his MLB debut in Philadelphia.

The Giants right-hander became even more relaxed and settled in after Matt Chapman’s grand slam in the first inning that propelled the team to a 5-1 win in front of 37,321 fans and a pelican that somehow made its way onto the field in the latter innings.

“It kind of takes the pressure off yourself having to be perfect,” Black said. “It was awesome. You just go out there and pitch to contact, fill up the zone and do what you have to do.”

Black was able to do that for the most part, until he began to tire midway through the game and eventually was pulled by manager Bob Melvin.

Black’s line – 4 1/3 innings pitched, four hits, one run, 78 pitches – was very similar to what he did against Philadelphia, albeit with less damage. Black also pitched 4 1/3 innings on Monday against the Phillies, the team he grew up cheering for, and threw 84 pitches while surrendering eight hits and five walks.

The 24-year-old right-hander was much cleaner with his pitches Saturday, even though he received another no-decision.

“Got some big outs when he needed to,” Melvin said, adding that Black had somewhat of a short leash. “Wasn’t going to be 100 pitches today, regardless. Too bad he couldn’t get the win, but he pitched well, similarly to the way he pitched the last time out.”

Considering the way their 2024 MLB season has gone, the Giants will take it.

Black has been pitching in the rotation slot that was originally scheduled for reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell as the veteran continues to work his way into playing shape.

Before Saturday, the Giants had lost every game in which Snell’s turn in the rotation came up.

“He stuck to his gameplan,” catcher Patrick Bailey said of Black. “He used both fastballs effectively and kind of relied on his four-seam. Thought his sweeper was really good. He did a fantastic job today giving us what we needed.”

Black had two strikeouts and two walks. The two free passes were the only times when Black had a three-ball count. Otherwise, he was mostly in the zone and made it through the order twice fairly easily. When it came to the third time through, Melvin went to the bullpen for help.

“The whole bullpen just shoving in, throwing up zeroes. It was a good team win,” Black said.

Black was adamant about the team getting the victory being far more important than him still being in search of his first win at the professional level. It’s a mantra that he has spoken about for much of the season.

“That’s all that matters,” he said.

Black got some big-time help from the Giants’ defense. Outfielder Heliot Ramos threw out a pair of baserunners going for extra bases, then made a diving/tumbling catch to take away another hit from the Reds.

Black obviously took notice of the plays and said he owes Ramos.

“Definitely have to take him out for a nice dinner after that,” Black said. “It was having him out there. It’s awesome having guys like that that can make plays.”

As for himself, Black understands that he’s still a work in progress. He isn’t sure where he fits into the Giants' future plans but feels pretty good about where he’s at now, even if is still looking for that first W.

“Winning is the main thing,” Black reiterated. “I would like be that workhorse for this team, much like [Logan Webb] and [Kyle Harrison], and go out there and get seven, eight innings, whatever the team needs.

“I’m not the one in charge of making those decisions. Just feel good about where things are at and excited to see what the future holds.”

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