Winn rediscovers form in quality start vs. Angels

June 16th, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO -- Rookie vowed to dive deep this week in an attempt to troubleshoot the issues that had hampered him on the mound over his last four starts.

Those efforts yielded a much-needed bounce-back outing on Saturday afternoon, when the 26-year-old right-hander delivered his best start in nearly two months in the Giants' 4-3 loss to the Angels at Oracle Park.

Winn allowed three runs on five hits over six innings in his first quality start since April 28, topping out at 97.7 mph with his four-seam fastball and using his trusty splitter to generate 17 swinging strikes and induce all but one of his six strikeouts.

“Honestly, it was just becoming more synced with myself,” said Winn, who had gone 0-4 with a 17.05 ERA over his previous four starts. “I don’t know if you guys noticed, I threw a lot of slide-steps today, and I think that really helped sync everything up.”

Heliot Ramos went 3-for-5 with his second home run in as many days and knocked in each of the Giants’ three runs, but he didn’t get enough help from the rest of his teammates, as the club finished only 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.

“It was just subtle little things that beat us today,” manager Bob Melvin said. “The situational at-bats were terrible. … It felt like these are the types of games we win, especially here at home, so it was a pretty frustrating game.”

All of the Angels’ damage against Winn came via the long ball, as he surrendered a solo homer to Mickey Moniak in the second inning, followed by a game-tying, two-run shot to Logan O’Hoppe in the sixth.

Winn was nursing a blister on his pitching hand and drew a mound visit from Melvin, pitching coach Bryan Price and head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner after he issued a leadoff walk to Taylor Ward to open the sixth, but he stayed in the game after throwing one warmup pitch off the mound.

Winn retired the next batter on a flyout, but he misplaced a 93.7 mph sinker that O’Hoppe blasted more than halfway up the left-field bleachers to tie the game, 3-3. O’Hoppe’s moonshot traveled an estimated 467 feet, tied for the fourth-longest home run at Oracle Park since Statcast began tracking in 2015.

“It was just one pitch, a fastball that wasn’t located well,” Melvin said. “Everything else he did really well today.”

Winn departed after throwing 91 pitches, but the Angels pulled ahead in the seventh after Nolan Schanuel drew a two-out walk against Ryan Walker, stole second and advanced to third on an errant throw by catcher Curt Casali. Luis Rengifo followed with a go-ahead single to center field, sealing a series win for the Angels. The Giants have allowed 73 stolen bases, tied with the Mets for the most in MLB this season.

Winn got some early run support thanks to the hot-hitting Ramos, who cranked a two-run blast off Angels left-hander Patrick Sandoval in the first inning and then yanked an RBI double down the left-field line to extend the Giants’ lead to 3-1 in the fifth.

The Giants had a chance to add on after Sandoval intentionally walked Matt Chapman to bring up Jorge Soler with the bases loaded and one out, but the Angels’ gamble paid off after Soler struck out swinging and Thairo Estrada flied out to end the inning.

San Francisco threatened again after Nick Ahmed singled, took second on an error by Pillar and stole third with one out, but Angels lefty Matt Moore got Casali to pop out and induced a lineout from Austin Slater to emerge unscathed. Ramos then reached on a leadoff double in the seventh, but he, too, was left stranded after Wilmer Flores, Chapman and Soler couldn’t come through against former Giants reliever Hunter Strickland.

Ramos is now batting .325 with a .978 OPS and eight home runs in 34 games since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on May 8, strengthening his case as a dark horse All-Star candidate, but the Giants know they can’t expect the 24-year-old outfielder to single-handedly carry the team moving forward.

“It’s fantastic baseball,” Melvin said. “He needs some help, too. He knocked in all three runs today. Like I said, we left some more out there.”