Giants bats were echoing loud and often Saturday, coming away with 15 hits against the Brewers at Oracle Park Saturday in an 8-7 victory that San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy described as “exciting.”
San Francisco’s 5-6-7 hitters were the backbone of the offense against the Brewers (39-31) and they took on a leaky Milwaukee bullpen with gusto to extend the team’s winning streak to four — the most victories they’ve strung together all season.
Mistakes were made on both sides in the chilly matinee between Milwaukee and San Francisco (30-38) at Oracle Park, but Madison Bumgarner (ND, 3-6, 3.87 ERA) tossed his 11th quality start of the season while Stephen Vogt became the first Giants catcher to triple twice in a game since 1984. It was enough.
The veteran catcher said he was somewhat surprised when he saw the second one split the gap. He said:
“For me, it’s always just– try to get try get as far as you can and make them stop you. …Obviously, playing in this ballpark, there’s a chance for some triples and it’s just kind of funny–I’ve had some triples in the past but never two in one game.”
The Giants also benefited from a fifth inning meltdown from Brewers righty Jimmy Nelson (ND, 0-1, 10.29 ERA) who was more or less unflappable, until the bottom of the fifth when he abruptly fell apart.
The Brewers were up 5-1 when Nelson walked Bumgarner on four pitches to open the fifth inning. Asked if he had ever watched four consectutive pitches go by without taking a hack, Bumgarner was succinct:
“No. Definitely not.”
“I was just looking for a pitch in a spot that I could do some damage with and trying to think along with the guy, and then we get 3-0 and the score is 5-1– obviously I’m taking.”
It quickly became apparent Nelson had lost all sight of the strike zone. He mustered one called strike in a five-pitch walk to Joe Panik, then threw another four consecutive pitches for balls to Mike Yastrzemski before Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell had seen enough.
Adrian Houser took the ball from Nelson to face Brandon Belt, who drew yet another walk to force home Bumgarner. A ground out and a sac-fly from Vogt and Pablo Sandoval put the Giants within a run, making it 5-4.
Bochy was proud to see his guys finally get some knocks with runners in scoring position, something they’ve had no end of struggles with. But he said he was also proud to see his club capitalize on the Brewers wild arms. He said:
“You see the difference of what happens when you get those hits with runners in scoring position — it’s how you win games. It’s a pretty simple game but with that said, we scored three runs without getting a base hit, and that’s not easy to do [either].”
Aside from a solo shot off the bat of catcher Manny Piña in the third, Bumgarner kept the Brewers in the yard Saturday. He left an 87-mph cutter out over the plate and Piña sailed it into the left field bleachers (3) to get the Brewers on the board first. The Giants ace has allowed 14 home runs in 2019, tied for sixth-most in the majors among qualified pitchers.
The solo shot was the only blemish in the first three frames for Bumgarner, but Milwaukee would scratch three across in the fourth, only one of them earned.
Yasmani Grandal coaxed an eight-pitch walk and Mike Moustakas slapped a first-pitch cutter to right for a double, moving Grandal to third. Kevin Pillar then dropped a Hernán Pérez sac-fly to right for a 180-foot error. Grandal scored and Pérez took second base, moving Moustakas to third. An Orlando Arcia ground out and Piña single off the wall in left scored Pérez and Moustakas, putting the Giants down 4-0.
Bumgarner said he was disappointed he couldn’t limit the damage more in the fourth. He said:
“I would like to have picked up Pillar and not let those those other runs score. We got to find a way to leave them onbase.”
But Pillar made up for his foible in the bottom of the fourth, when he followed the first of two standup triples from Stephen Vogt by lining a single just over Arcia’s head at short and into left field to get San Francisco on the board.
Pillar would do his part again in the seventh when he followed Vogt’s second triple of the afternoon with a single to right, tying it up 6-6.
Crawford put the Giants ahead once and for all with a sharp grounder to right for his second two-bagger, making it 7-6.
Trevor Gott (3, 3-0, 3.79 ERA) would nab his third win of the season after taking the ball for Bumgarner in the seventh.
To top his performance off, Vogt tacked on an insurance run for San Francisco in the eighth when he ran out an infield single to score Belt, balancing out his twin triples.
Ultimately it would be necessary insurance. Giants closer Will Smith (S, 18, 1-0, 2.20 ERA ) has been taxed this week with three preceding saves and Christian Yelich swatted a two-out dinger (26) to center to cut things close.
Bochy had high praise for Vogt’s infield single. He said:
“In the ninth inning for catcher to get down the line like that–that’s impressive. He had caught a pretty long game at that point and he really got down that line very well.”
The skipper credited Vogt with having good wheels for a backstop but Vogt had another explanation. He said:
“I like to joke that the fastest human being on the planet is a baseball player that smells a hit. We’re running pound-for-pound as fast as a human being can possibly run when we smell a hit.”
An incredible diving catch from Yastrzemski in left on a liner from Grandal put a lock on Smith’s 18th consecutive save to start the season.
Smith described the feeling of seeing Yaz make the catch as “amazing,” he said:
“He gets the save today for sure. That was just a great play. He plays the game the right way, playing hard, laying out and making a catch for for us–it’s nice.”
Jeff Samardzija (3-5, 3.72 ERA) will try to lead the Giants to a sweep to advance San Francisco’s winning streak to five-straight in the series finale against Chase Anderson (3-1, 3.80 ERA) and the Brewers Sunday at Oracle Park. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.
Belt’s on-base streak continues neck-and-neck with Smith’s consecutive streak of converted saves, each is at 18. …With Saturday’s win the Giants secure their first homestand winning-record of the season and have won back-to-back series for the first time all season.