The San Francisco Giants are anticipating that this season’s standout pitching prospect will replicate the success of last year’s sensation when right-hander Mason Black takes the mound against the visiting Cincinnati Reds on Saturday evening.

In the series opener on Friday, the Reds ended an eight-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory, buoyed by a solid performance from Andrew Abbott and four relievers. Elly De La Cruz contributed with two hits and two stolen bases, while Stuart Fairchild’s inside-the-park home run added to the Reds’ offensive display.

Black (0-1, 10.38 ERA) had a strikingly similar debut experience to Kyle Harrison’s first start for the Giants last August. Both occurrences took place in Philadelphia against the Phillies, and initially, both pitchers performed adequately until Giants manager Gabe Kapler faced a crucial decision mid-game.

Last August, despite Kyle Harrison limiting the Phillies to two runs, Kapler, known for his analytics-driven approach, opted to remove Harrison before Philadelphia’s hitters could face him for a third time. Initially, the move appeared effective as the Giants bullpen preserved a 3-2 lead into the ninth, only for the Phillies to rally and snatch a 4-3 win.

Fast forward nine months, and Mason Black found himself in a similar situation. He reached the top of the lineup for a third time after allowing just one run in four innings. However, under the stewardship of old-school manager Bob Melvin, Black remained in the game. Unfortunately, he yielded five hits, including a home run and two doubles, within six batters, leading to his removal in a 6-1 defeat.


Giants' Mason Black looks to subdue Reds in home debut

Now, the 24-year-old right-hander is set to make his home debut against none other than the same team Harrison faced last year. Harrison, a 22-year-old left-hander, delivered a stellar performance against the Reds in that outing last August, striking out 11 in 6 1/3 shutout innings in a 4-1 triumph.

Black will be up against a Cincinnati team that has shown signs of offensive resurgence in its last three games, recording nine hits in each after a stretch of eight games with eight or fewer hits. The Reds also capitalized on the absence of Giants starting catcher Patrick Bailey (due to concussion protocol) to steal a pair of bases, both of which resulted in runs.

Whether it’s bouncing back from an eight-game skid or aiming to kick off a winning streak, Reds manager David Bell emphasizes his team’s focus on taking it one day at a time.

“We’ve got a long road ahead,” he remarked regarding his team’s sluggish start. “Each game holds immense importance for us. We keep pushing forward; that’s the only way forward.”

Bailey is eligible to return from the concussion list on Saturday, but Melvin wants to ensure all precautions are taken before reintroducing one of his top young players to the lineup.

“We need to be cautious. Patrick’s had a concussion before last year, so we need to proceed carefully,” Melvin stated. “Baseball has the right protocols in place; you have to pass stringent tests to return after being on concussion protocol.”

In pursuit of a winning streak, the Reds plan to start left-hander Nick Lodolo (3-1, 2.79 ERA) in Saturday’s rematch.

After enjoying an undefeated April, the 26-year-old encountered his first setback of the season at home against the Baltimore Orioles last Sunday. He surrendered a season-high four runs across five innings, resulting in his inaugural loss. Prior to this, he had only conceded a total of five runs in his initial 24 innings.

This California native has not yet encountered the Giants in his career.


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