MILWAUKEE — It was a bullpen day for the Giants against reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes for the Brewers.
Burnes carried a shutout into the seventh inning of a third consecutive dominating performance, but eight Giants relievers dueled him all the way. Their combined effort, backed by two-out, two-run home runs from Joc Pederson in the eighth inning and Luis González in the ninth, sent San Francisco to an unlikely 4-2 win in a rare one-game homestand at American Family Field.
Burnes’ outing — 6 2/3 innings, two hits, no runs, one walk, one disputed hit batsman and his second straight double-digit strikeout performance — lowered his ERA to 1.75 and continued quite a run for Milwaukee’s starters. They own a 1.87 ERA over the team’s last 12 games.
But relievers Trevor Gott and Jake Cousins faltered for the Brewers after Burnes’ departure, and Milwaukee’s offense couldn’t cobble together any sustained rallies against the Giants’ parade of relievers. Willy Adames’ solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning briefly tied the game at 2, before González connected for his first Major League home run off Cousins in the ninth.
“I’m just going out and doing my job, I know these guys are playing their hardest and doing everything they can to win as well,” Burnes said. “We’ve done really good to this point with everyone sticking to what they do best and going out there to play good baseball. You’re going to have games like this. It’s going to happen.”
Burnes is an ace on a roll — he’s allowed two earned runs in 20 2/3 innings over his last three starts since harnessing his cutter — but the Giants’ version of Johnny Wholestaff is also formidable. San Francisco’s bullpen ERA of 1.65 is tops in the Majors.
“We didn’t make them have to make that ‘next’ move,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “When you have a plan like that, it needs to go well. We didn’t do anything to make them alter their plan at all.”
Counsell added of his team’s offense, “We’re in a place right now where we just don’t have a lot of guys feeling good. I don’t think we’re swinging at bad pitches, I just think we’re missing pitches to hit. That’s going to change.”
Why was there a homestand of only one game? Such occurrences aren’t completely foreign in baseball, as teams occasionally stop home in the middle of a road trip to make up a rainout. But that doesn’t happen for the Brewers at their domed home. The only other one-game homestand in this ballpark was in 2001, when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occured on the morning after the Cardinals and Brewers opened a series. Baseball subsequently paused.
This one-game homestand was a result of MLB’s offseason lockout, which pushed back the end of Spring Training and forced the first week of the original regular season schedule to be reconfigured. The season-opening series against the D-backs was added to the end, but rather than push the start of the postseason too far into October, MLB decided to disperse each club’s second series elsewhere on the schedule.
So, the Brewers added Monday’s game against the Giants on what was to be an off-day between road series at Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and they will host San Francisco again for a scheduled doubleheader on Sept. 8.
The Giants had tougher travel. This was their last of an 11-game road trip; it was supposed to be an off-day at home coming off a series at Washington.
“No choices were good in this situation for us or the Giants,” Counsell said before the game. “You’re making up a series with a team that’s a couple thousand miles away from you, it’s not easy. We have 20 off-days out of 180. It’s not an easy thing to figure out.”
Credit the Giants for making the most of their night in Milwaukee.
“It’s not the first time it’s happened and it’s not the last time it’s going to happen,” Gott said. “Corbin pitched extremely well. Obviously everyone down there wants to come in and put up zeroes, but it didn’t happen tonight so we move on and get ready for the next outing.”
Said Burnes: “I think in the past couple of years we’ve faced [the Giants] in a bullpen game a couple of times, and top to bottom, they’ve got good arms coming out of the ‘pen. So if they go out there and they’re feeling their stuff, and they’re on top of it, it’s going to be tough to score runs.”