The Giants have seen most of the rosters that they might square off against in October, and they have fared very well. But they hadn't seen the Milwaukee Brewers until Friday night. The NL Central's leader lived up to the hype.
The Brewers won a pitching duel that went into extra innings, walking it off when Sacramento's Rowdy Tellez hit a ball down the left field line with a free runner on second base. The 2-1 loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Giants with Logan Webb on the mound, and a five-game winning streak in extra-inning games.
The Brewers got to within three games of the Giants in the race for the NL's best record, and did it with one of their co-aces on the mound.
Corbin Burnes doesn't get much publicity, but he has turned into a Cy Young contender for the Brewers, and he showed why against a deep Giants lineup. Burnes allowed just four hits, but Brandon Belt got to him in the sixth, driving a solo homer that tied the game.
Webb was Burnes' equal, getting past a lengthy second inning to dominate through six. That turned this into yet another bullpen battle for the Giants, who tend to do well in those games. The Brewers do too, though, and both bullpens sailed through the ninth, putting the Giants in extras for the second straight day.
The Giants were the first to get a free runner on second, but they couldn't score against lefty Brent Suter. They seemed to have the matchups going their way in extras, with the Brewers having no right-handed option to replace lefty Tellez against lefty Jarlin Garcia, but it didn't matter. Tellez ripped a double to left to win the game.
The Giants have seen their rotation take a step back in recent weeks and just put Anthony DeSclafani on the IL, but Webb has stepped up to fill the void and pitch like an ace. He went six innings Friday, allowing just a solo homer on a wildly off-balance swing by Avisail Garcia.
As Webb returned from a shoulder injury, the Giants essentially let him rehab at the big league level. The results have gotten better and better as he has gotten his pitch count up. He allowed just three hits and struck out nine, and in six starts since coming off the IL, he now has a 2.10 ERA. Friday's strong start lowered his season ERA to 3.19.
When he was getting ready to leave for a rehab assignment a couple of weeks ago, Belt said he didn't anticipate needing much time to lock his swing into place. He was absolutely correct.
Belt had his timing as soon as he got back into the lineup on Thursday, and he got the Giants on the board in the sixth inning with a solo shot to right. The homer was the 12th of his season and 150th of his career.
The most impressive part of the blast was who it came against. Burnes allowed just four homers in his first 18 starts and threw Belt a good 93 mph cutter inside, but Belt pulled his hands in and yanked it into the seats.
All Out Effort
Webb got a lot of help from Mike Yastrzemski, who made his first start of the year in center field and came up with one of the plays of the year for the Giants. Rowdy Tellez crushed a ball to center in the fourth that looked like a one-out double, but Yastrzemski tracked it down and put his body in harm's way to come up with the robbery:
Yastrzemski stayed down for a minute and right fielder LaMonte Wade Jr. started calling a trainer over, but it seemed the damage was limited to a scraped-up elbow. That was a break for the Giants, who already watched Yastrzemski get hurt once this year while going up against a wall.