Meckler fires up Giants with 1st Major League hits

Meckler fires up Giants with 1st Major League hits

6:25 AM UTC

SAN FRANCISCO — Rookie outfielder Wade Meckler recorded only 332 career at-bats in the Minors before earning his first callup with the Giants on Monday. That didn’t stop manager Gabe Kapler from immediately inserting the hot-hitting prospect into the No. 2 spot in his lineup, which has been in desperate need of a spark after weeks of offensive ineptitude.

“If you’re going to throw anybody into the deep end, it’s somebody who’s capable of swimming,” Kapler said. “With Meckler, he’s got a pretty decent skill set to hit second.”

Meckler, of course, posted “video-game numbers” en route to becoming only the fourth member of the 2022 Draft class to reach the Majors, leading all qualified Minor Leaguers at full-season affiliates with a .379 batting average and a .463 on-base percentage over 69 games between High-A Eugene, Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento this year.

It didn’t take long for Meckler to begin to flash that offensive potential with the Giants. One day after going hitless in his Major League debut, the 23-year-old Meckler recorded his first two career hits to help the Giants rout the Rays, 7-0, on Tuesday night at Oracle Park.

Jakob Junis and Sean Manaea combined to strike out 12 over 7 1/3 scoreless innings, and the Giants rewarded their effort by breaking out for their best offensive performance in over a week.

The two sides were locked in a scoreless tie before Thairo Estrada finally broke the stalemate with a sixth-inning solo home run off Zack Littell, a former Giants reliever who is now starting games for the Rays. Meckler kept the rally going with his first hit, lining a 1-0 fastball to center field for a two-out single that knocked Littell out of the game.

“Relieving,” said Meckler, who also reached on an infield single in the eighth. “That’s probably the No. 1 emotion I can describe for it. … I was looking for a fastball that whole at-bat, and I got one. I put a good swing on it. It felt really good.”

Wilmer Flores followed with his team-leading 16th home run of the year, cranking a first-pitch sinker from right-hander Kevin Kelly out to left field to extend the Giants’ lead to 3-0. It marked the first time San Francisco had hit multiple home runs in the same inning since June 13.

The Giants scored two more runs in the seventh with the help of a throwing error by Rays catcher Rene Pinto and then tacked on another pair in the eighth behind RBI hits from Patrick Bailey and Michael Conforto, who went 3-for-4 to lift his batting average to .556 (10-for-18) over his last six games.

“I think tonight we swung the bat much better, and we had some good fortune,” Kapler said. “I think that’s why we had some crooked numbers and a really good victory.”

Kapler wasn’t around to watch the Giants pull out their third win in their last 10 games, as he was ejected for the second time this season after arguing balls and strikes in the fourth inning. Kapler bolted out of the dugout after home-plate umpire Chad Whitson called a high fastball that appeared to be above the zone a strike, putting Meckler in an 0-1 hole against Littell. The missed call infuriated Kapler, who felt Meckler had also been subjected to a wide strike zone earlier in the game, resulting in strikeouts in his first two at-bats against Littell.

Kapler said he’d read an article detailing Meckler’s improbable rise earlier in the day and thought it was important to stand up for the young outfielder, who is known for his keen eye at the plate.

“He’s just had to grind and fight every step of the way,” Kapler said. “Obviously, I didn’t think those were strikes in his first at-bat. Wade didn’t think they were strikes. I was obviously just irritated and reacted, but I really reacted on behalf of Meck, who deserves to be stood up for by all of us, all of the players and staff. I’m just happy he got his first big league knock, and then his second. I think there’s going to be many more to come.”

Despite having several calls go against him, Meckler said Kapler encouraged him to stick with his approach and continue to be stubborn in the strike zone, which should help him get on base consistently over the course of time.

“I think he felt the need to let me know that I’m doing the right thing,” Meckler said. “It feels very good to have a manager that will go up there and stand up for you, especially when you can’t really say anything as a player.”

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