Entering Friday’s contest the Brewers had the third-most home runs in the majors with 121, while the Giants measly 60 dingers were the third-fewest.
Neither team moved ranks on any leaderboard, but the numbers still make the box score in the Giants 5-3 victory over Milwaukee something of a head-scratcher when comparing the Giants three dingers to the goose egg Drew Pomeranz (W, 2–6, 6.43 ERA) and San Francisco’s bullpen handed the Crew.
The Giants who stole the Brewers homer mojo to support the Giants third-straight victory at home were Pablo Sandoval, Kevin Pillar and Mike Yastrzemski, and Pomeranz and the 35,106 fans at Oracle Park ate it up.
In the aftermath of Pomeranz’s last outing, June 7, he said he moved his arm slot up and saw immediate results. Facing LA in that start he tossed five innings of three-hit, shutout ball and marked something of a high watermark for the season.
Friday the big lefty showed it wasn’t a one-off, striking out five Brewers over five strong innings, allowing five hits and two runs, neither earned. In just two starts his ERA has dropped nearly two full runs.
Manager Bruce Bochy had high praise for the work Pomeranz has put in:
“You look at the last two outings, he’s been a different guy in command of all his pitches… I thought his breaking ball got better as he went. He’s gotta feel good about his little adjustment.”
Pomeranz entered the contest allowing an average of 2.3 home runs per nine innings but he said keeping the Brewers in the ballpark came naturally with the work he’d been doing to perfect his adjustment. He said:
“I think that just kind of fits along with the things I’ve been working on just trying to throw quality strikes and staying in good counts. I think all those things kind of lead to keeping the ball in the ballpark.”
Pomeranz’s first of two unearned runs Friday came when home plate umpire Paul Emmel ruled a 3-2 curveball in the dirt that Orlando Arcia swung at made contact with his bat, though slow-motion replay appeared to contradict this.
Arcia walked on the next pitch and the Brewers shortstop moved to third on a single from Lorenzo Cain. Arcia scored on a rare passed ball called on Buster Posey, his first of the season, giving the Brewers a 1-0 lead.
Bochy barked at home plate umpire Paul Emmel after the foul call and still referred to the play as a strikeout after the game, despite the ultimate outcome. Bochy said:
“Really [Pomeranz] coulda got outta that without giving up a run. The strikeout—I mean I didn’t hear a foul tip—he got a tough break there against ’em.”
But Sandoval wiped it all away when he followed a fourth inning leadoff single from Brandon Belt against Milwaukee starter Zach Davies (L, 7-1, 2.60 ERA) with a two-run jack (9) to left-center to take a 2-1 lead.
Pillar backed Crawford noting that the Gold Glove shortstop rarely errs. He said:
“We take him for granted so much. It’s a very difficult position to play even some of the routine balls hit, are hit so hard and he’s just so good over there.”
Pillar was able to pick Crawford up the same inning when he led off the home-half of the fifth with a a solo homer (8) to left-center to put the Giants back ahead, 3-2.
The outfielder was happy to be able to contribute to the Giants win, however he could, and Friday that meant going 3-for-3 with two stolen bases, an RBI and a homer for the second game in a row.
“I felt like today was the type of game I expect out of myself a little bit more. I don’t expect to be perfect at the plate all the time, but I have this mindset to go out and try to be the best player on the field every single day whether it’s offensively, defensively or on the base paths.”
The rookie Yastrzemski sealed the deal with a pair of insurance runs in the seventh with some help from Pillar. With Yastrzemski batting Pillar stole second, sliding so hard into the base that it popped off its mooring.
Pillar said he wasn’t sure how to react when the base came off. At first he couldn’t decide if he should try to grab onto the base itself, then several feet from its natural home, or aim for the place where it should have been. In the end he went with the latter. He said:
“I kind of just held my my ground at where second base should have been and I was gonna just kind of leave it up to [the umpires’] hands. I didn’t know what the rule was. The umpire at second base said in as many years he’s been doing this he hadn’t seen that before, either, so I guess you play this game long enough you see things you’ve never seen on a baseball field, and that was a first for me.”
Umpires ruled Pillar safe and Yastrzemski’s at-bat against Álex Claudio continued, prompting Yaz to go down and get a 73-mph changeup and launch it out to the Garden in center for his first homer at Oracle (2), giving the Giants a more comfortable 5-2 lead.
Milwaukee would add on one more in the eighth, but San Francisco closer Will Smith (S, 17, 1-0, 1.95 ERA) did what he’s done all year, converting his 17th save of the season to maintain his 100 percent efficacy rate.
Bochy said Smith has been a season-changer for the Giants:
“There’s no fear in Smitty and when things get tight, you still feel so comfortable with him out there. For him to have his run—it’s been big for us. A lot of these close games we’ve won and I’d hate to think where we’d be if it wasn’t for Smitty.”
Belt and Smith each continue streaks Friday—Belt has reached base in 17-straight contests and Smith has converted saves in all 17 opportunities since the 2019 season opened, second-most to start a season in Giants history since 1969 behind Rod Beck (28) in 1994.