Soler warming, but Giants need to 'dig a little harder'

Slugger mashes 2nd HR as SF is swept by Dodgers, heads home after 2-5 road trip

April 4th, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- It took a while to find his power stroke, but the star slugger already seems to be making a habit of hitting majestic home runs for the Giants.

Soler mashed his second home run in as many days on Wednesday -- a no-doubt, 452-foot solo shot that brought San Francisco within one run in the eighth inning – but the Giants once again came up short in a 5-4 loss that sealed a three-game sweep at the hands of the rival Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

Shohei Ohtani commanded the spotlight after slugging his first homer since joining the Dodgers off lefty in the seventh, but Soler quickly answered back by unloading on a down-the-middle fastball from Los Angeles right-hander Daniel Hudson the following inning.

“I’m always looking for a fastball,” Soler said in Spanish. “He throws hard and has a good slider, but I was looking for the fastball. … I knew it was gone as soon as it left the bat.”

Soler’s moonshot -- which flew off his bat at 112 mph -- ended up eclipsing Ohtani’s 430-foot blast and ranked as the second-longest homer in MLB this season, trailing only Angels star Mike Trout’s 473-footer on Monday. It was the type of raw power the Giants envisioned when they signed Soler to a three-year, $42 million deal in February.

“We know it’s there,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Cold night here, the ball’s not really traveling. He can make ballparks look small.”

Soler didn’t go deep during Spring Training, but he got the first one out of the way with a sixth-inning solo shot against the Dodgers on Tuesday and feels that he’s starting to settle into a nice groove at the plate.

“I’m going to try to keep this rhythm going,” said Soler, who also doubled in the sixth inning. “I worked really hard on that over the offseason, and it’s what I’ve been working on with the new hitting coaches. We’ve been working on some new things to try to keep my bat more consistent. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep it going.”

came close to going back to back with Soler after he sent a first-pitch slider from Hudson to deep right field, but the potential game-tying drive ended up dying at the warning track and fell harmlessly into Teoscar Hernández’s glove for the final out of the inning.

“You don’t get any prizes for close,” Melvin said. “We’ve got to dig a little harder.”

Dodger Stadium has morphed into something of a house of horrors for the Giants, who have now lost 14 of their last 19 games here dating to 2022. Despite spending big on top free agents like Soler, , and over the offseason, the Giants still couldn’t keep pace with the high-powered Dodgers, who have scored at least five runs in each of their first nine games to start the season.

Left-hander was charged with the loss Wednesday after giving up four runs over five innings in his second start of the year. The Giants’ top prospect struck out four, but he also walked three and gave up six hits, including a solo shot to No. 9 hitter Miguel Rojas in the fourth.

“I was just not getting ahead, not attacking guys as much as I should and falling behind in counts,” Harrison said. “Kind of a mixture of everything.

“Definitely not good in my eyes and not good in our team’s eyes," added Harrison. "The win’s all that matters. To get swept is not a great feeling. We’re going to be back to the drawing board, and we’re going to be ready for these guys the next time we come out. It just gives us that much more motivation.”

also flashed some power with his first home run of the season -- a third-inning solo blast off Tyler Glasnow -- but it wasn’t enough for the Giants, who will now limp back home following a 2-5 road trip to San Diego and Los Angeles to start the year.

“We’re certainly not at full strength yet,” Melvin said. “Two games that you come back and you’re that close against a good team playing really well right now, it’s really nothing to hang your hat on. It’s more frustrating than anything else.”