What we learned as Giants celebrate Luciano’s debut with win

What we learned as Giants celebrate Luciano’s debut with win originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO — Starting on Friday, the Giants will play a playoff contender in just about every game until the second week of September.

The trade deadline might shake up a few rosters, but at the moment it appears the only easy games over the next month-plus will be two series against the A’s, who are 28-76. You can’t let those opportunities go to waste, and while the Giants didn’t play their sharpest baseball the last two nights, they did come away with a couple of wins.

Austin Slater hit a two-run homer in the sixth and the pitching staff did the rest as the Giants won 8-3, making sure Marco Luciano went through a handshake line on his first day in the big leagues. Luciano, called up to help spark the lineup, was hitless, but the Giants still finished with more than three runs for the first time in eight days.

The lineup had just 11 runs over the previous seven games but got off to a good start Wednesday thanks to J.D. Davis, who launched a two-run shot into the arcade in the first inning. Casey Schmitt’s RBI double made it a three-run lead an inning later, but the A’s tied the score thanks to some Giants sloppiness in the fourth.

With two on, Jace Peterson hit a single to center that brought one run in, and then a second when Luis Matos’ throw to third skipped away. Shea Langeliers followed with a single that tied it up.

Slater put the Giants back on top and doubles by Luis Matos and Patrick Bailey sparked another rally in the eighth.

Marco Mania

Luciano became the ninth Giant to make his MLB debut this season, and this one had a different feel to it. The shortstop is the top hitting prospect to be called up by the Giants since Buster Posey’s debut, and the fans treated him accordingly. Luciano got a standing ovation when he walked up to the plate in the second inning, and after he flew out to the track in right on the first pitch, he got another ovation on his way back to the dugout.

Luciano grounded out to the mound in the fifth and two innings later got a taste of Giants baseball when Pederson pinch-hit for him.

In the first, Luciano got a scare with his first defensive chance in the big leagues. He was a little slow unloading the ball on Zack Gelof’s grounder and the play was so close that the A’s considered challenging it, but for the rest of the night, Luciano showed the defensive growth that helped get him to the big leagues this soon. He was particularly smooth on a couple of double-play balls.

Making His Case

With Brandon Crawford due back Friday and Luciano set for at least a modest audition in the big leagues, the Giants will likely have to send an infielder down over the weekend. Schmitt and Brett Wisely are the two obvious options, but Schmitt responded to the latest roster-shuffling with one of his best games of the last couple of months.

Schmitt had just one extra-base hit in the last 33 games, but he jumped on a center-cut fastball in the second inning and smoked a 108.3 mph double into the gap in left. In the seventh, Schmitt drew a walk.

The rookie also survived an ugly play in the third inning. He tried to field Tony Kemp’s single up the middle and rolled over his left wrist, but he stayed in the game after getting checked by trainer Dave Groeschner.

See Ya Later

Slater came off the bench to hit a go-ahead homer into the first row of the bleachers in left. The pinch-hit blast was his eighth since his debut in 2017, which is tied with Wilmer Flores for the most in MLB during that span. Slater also moved past Brandon Belt on the franchise’s San Francisco-era leaderboard. Only Willie McCovey, with 13, has more pinch-hit homers as a San Francisco Giant.

Slater had just seven hits in his previous 49 at-bats, but he was back in a familiar situation on Wednesday. With the A’s going with an opener in front of lefty Hogan Harris, manager Gabe Kapler saved Slater for a big late-game spot. He’s now batting .328 against lefties this season.

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