Austin Slater, Donovan Solano injuries show Giants' offensive weakness


The Giants have made a habit of coming back in late innings, but that probably wasn't going to be in the cards on a night when Houston Astros starter Zack Greinke slipped into cruise control.

Even if he did have a shot late in Thursday's 5-1 loss, Giants manager Gabe Kapler would have been without two of his best weapons. 

Donovan Solano missed a second straight game with abdominal soreness and Austin Slater was a late scratch with right elbow pain. While the Giants are hopeful that Solano is ready Friday against the A's, the news on Slater feels more discouraging. 

Slater had a sprained elbow in 2018 but didn't miss time because it happened the last weekend of the regular season. Kapler said Slater felt discomfort swinging and throwing Wednesday, and it seems likely he's headed for an MRI when the club returns to San Francisco. 

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Without their two best right-handed bats, the Giants went down quietly Thursday to finish 3-7 on the road trip.

It was a 10-game journey that cemented Solano's status as an everyday player, and it showed off the improvements Slater has made at the plate. But it also demonstrated just how toothless the Giants can be when their bigger names continue to slump.


Brandon Belt went 5-for-32 on the trip with two extra-base hits, and Brandon Crawford was 6-for-28. He doesn't have an extra-base hit all season. Evan Longoria was 4-for-33 on his first road trip of the season. While Hunter Pence had a huge homer Tuesday, his 0-for-4 a night later dropped his average back to .105 for the year. Pablo Sandoval is at .179 and was notably absent on Wednesday when the late scratch of Slater forced Kapler into lineup changes against a right-hander. It's hard to see where he fits in at the moment. 

Asked about his struggling veterans, Kapler said baseball is a team game.

"I don't ever put the onus on any one individual or even on two or three," Kapler said. "I think the right way to look at this is when one guy is struggling or not consistent, then the rest of the group has to surround that player or that group of players with support."

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The problem with that is that the onus has been put on two or three guys every night because so many others are struggling. Mike Yastrzemski (who had three more hits Wednesday), Slater and Solano all have an OPS above 1.000. Nobody else on the team is above .800, and the more familiar names are all several levels below that.

That's a recipe that's not going to work, especially when two of the three main contributors are in the trainer's room.