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May 11, 2024 8:25 am

Giants’ Mason Black looks to subdue Reds in home debut

Mason Black

The San Francisco Giants hope this year’s top pitching prospect will follow in the footsteps of last year’s phenom when right-hander Mason Black gets the ball against the visiting Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night.

The Reds received a strong effort from Andrew Abbott and four relievers in snapping an eight-game losing streak with a 4-2 win in Friday’s opener of the three-game series. Elly De La Cruz had two hits and two steals and Stuart Fairchild added an inside-the-park home run.

Black (0-1, 10.38 ERA) had almost an identical experience in his major league debut Monday as Kyle Harrison did in his first start for the Giants last August. Both were in Philadelphia against the Phillies, and both were doing fine until Giants manager Gabe Kapler had to make a key decision midway through the game.

Despite having limited the Phillies to two runs in that outing last August, the analytics-driven Kapler pulled Harrison before Philadelphia hitters could see him a third time. The move seemed to be paying off as the Giants bullpen took a 3-2 lead into the ninth before the Phillies rallied to win 4-3.

Nine months later, Black reached the top of the lineup for a third time after having allowed just one run in four innings. Old-school manager Bob Melvin stuck with him, and he proceeded to give up five hits — including a home run and two doubles — within six batters before being removed in what turned into a 6-1 defeat.

The 24-year-old right-hander is scheduled to make his home debut Saturday against — you guessed it — the same team as Harrison did last year. Harrison, a 22-year-old left-hander, dominated the Reds in that outing last August, striking out 11 in 6 1/3 shutout innings in a 4-1 victory.

Black will face a Cincinnati team that has demonstrated a bit of offensive life in its last three games, recording nine hits in each after going eight straight with eight or less. Cincinnati also took advantage of the absence of Giants starting catcher Patrick Bailey (concussion protocol) to steal a pair of bases, each of which led to a run.

Whether it’s the game following an eight-game skid or the potential start of a winning streak, Reds manager David Bell insists his team’s focus is one day at a time.

“There’s a long way to go,” he said when asked about his club’s slow start. “Every single game is incredibly important for us. We move forward. That’s the only way to move.”

Bailey is eligible to be activated off the concussion list Saturday, but Melvin wants to make sure all the boxes are checked before putting one of his top young players back behind the plate.

“You have to be cognizant. In Patrick’s case, he’s had one before last year, so we got to be really cautious with that,” Melvin explained. “I think baseball’s doing the right things in that when you get put on concussion protocol, you have to pass some pretty tough tests to get back.”

In search of a winning streak, the Reds are slated to send left-hander Nick Lodolo (3-1, 2.79 ERA) to the mound Saturday in the rematch.

After going unbeaten in April, the 26-year-old had his first hiccup of the season at home against the Baltimore Orioles last Sunday. He allowed a season-high four runs in five innings while suffering his first loss. He had given up a total of just five runs in his first 24 innings.

The California native has yet to face the Giants in his career.

–Field Level Media

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