Giants Analysis

Giants not concerned with offensive struggles after series win

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SAN FRANCISCO — The box score says Tyler Fitzgerald scored the tying run on Sunday and Jorge Soler had the game-winner. It says Matt Chapman had the go-ahead hit and Ha-Seong Kim committed an error that cost his team two runs and the lead. 

If you just look at the box score, you won’t know that Wilmer Flores might have had the game’s biggest moment. Even if you were one of 40,000 at a third consecutive Oracle Park sellout, you might have missed the significance. 

But Bob Melvin didn’t. During a press conference after a 3-2 win, Melvin’s longest and most passionate response was saved for Flores.

"You talk about your team guys … he's instrumental in getting Soler here, knowing a lot of his at-bats are going to go away. Chapman comes over and now a lot of his at-bats are going to go away there, too," Melvin said. "So now it looks like just a platoon at first, but he means more to us than that. Any time you've got a chance to get him in the game in a big spot you're going to do it."

Flores walked up to the plate with one out in the eighth and the Giants trailing by a run. The Padres immediately countered, removing left-hander Yuki Matsui and calling on righty Jhony Brito. Flores, who had pinch-hit for LaMonte Wade Jr., wasn’t fazed. Neither was Melvin, who knew the counter likely was coming. 

"It's really hard not to have him in the game, but the one thing you do know is that you're going to have a spot in the game where he can come up and impact it," Melvin said. "And left-right doesn't matter to him. So when they make the move, it really doesn't matter, because it's Wilmer Flores."

Flores lined a fastball into left and just like that, his day was done. Fitzgerald pinch-ran and got a tremendous read on Soler’s bloop, beating Fernando Tatis Jr.’s strong throw to third. The Giants tied the game when Kim dropped what would have been an inning-ending double play as Soler barreled in on him on the path between first and second. They won it on Chapman’s hard single to right. 

It all started with Flores, and there was some irony in that.

The veteran was the best hitter on last year’s team and is one of the few Giants not scuffling right now. But he also doesn't have a starting job against right-handed pitching. Melvin might not have a spot for Flores, but he never has forgotten his value in big spots.

For most of the rest of Melvin's hitters, the weekend was a struggle. The Giants scored six runs in three games, and all three Sunday came after mistakes by the Padres. 

Through 10 games, they rank 21st in the Majors in OPS and are hitting .223 as a team. They also rank 21st in OPS. They're middle of the pack in homers, and are the only MLB team without a stolen base this season. 

Melvin isn’t showing concern yet, and he said Sunday that the faith comes from the track record that these veteran hitters have. If he wanted to, he could also point to some bad luck. The breaks were there Sunday, but overall the Giants don’t have much to show for a good approach. 

They entered their 10th game leading the league in hard-hit percentage and are up more than six points from a year ago, when they ranked 18th. Their average exit velocity is up more than two mph, and they're second in that metric. They are third in hard-hit outs. 

Chapman has been right in the middle of all of that, and even after the game-winner on Sunday, his batting average sits below .200. But earlier in Sunday's game, he had a 384-foot flyout that found a glove in center field. His teammates urged him to keep pushing, and that was Chapman's message after the win. 

The Giants believe the process remains sound, even if the results haven't been there. 

"I think everybody in this lineup has experience. It's a very experienced lineup," Chapman said. "Guys have been taking good at-bats. I don't think we're giving at-bats away. We are hitting balls hard and haven't gotten some of those balls to fall maybe. But I think if we continue to stay the course and stay positive and the guys have the right mindset -- throughout the course of the season we know how long it is, and we know that if we continue to do this, good things will happen."

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