SF Giants: Austin Slater’s 2 home run game gives Giants spark

Austin Slater, SF Giants (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Austin Slater, SF Giants (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /

Austin Slater swatted two home runs against left-handed hurler Clayton Kershaw on Saturday to give the San Francisco Giants a 5-4 edge over the Dodgers.

The fact that the San Francisco Giants got the win is nice, but the rarity of a hitter knocking two home runs in the same game against Kershaw makes it even more special.

The list of hitters to have a multi-homerun game against the Dodgers southpaw is a short one as presented by San Francisco Chronicle beat writer Hank Schulman:

Schulman did later confirm that Walker should not be on this list, but we can now easily replace him with Slater.

The right-handed bat has had an up-and-down career up until this point. He can get very hot at the plate where you want to believe this is the hitter he is becoming, but then he can run into a cold spell where he hardly makes any contact.

I have come to chalk some of his struggles up as a mischaracterization of skill set. Previously, he had been used as a middle-of-the-order bat who faces off against all types of pitching.

In terms of where he should hit in the order, Slater is a fast and smart base runner who works deep counts and can get on base at a high rate. Since debuting in 2017, the 27-year-old has posted a stout .338 on-base percentage.

SF Giants have used Austin Slater well in 2020

Given this, I like that Giants manager Gabe Kapler has been using Slater as the leadoff hitter.

On top of this, the Giants have tried to limit his exposure to right-handed pitching. Slater has struggled against right-handers, but he has generated an .804 OPS while facing off against left-handed hurlers throughout his career.

It does seem like the Giants are trying to put Slater in a position that best  matches his skill set, and that has given us a couple of memorable moments against Kershaw:

Then there was this one:

And then there was the reaction:

The Giants have rarely gotten the best of Kershaw. The game on Saturday was one of the few instances. Slater’s two home run night will be one of those performances we will remember for a long time, which is why it is the Giants highlight of the week.