Every game the Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants have played this year has felt like a playoff clash, coming down to the wire with multiple hard-hit balls finding gloves (well, most of the time, the Avi Garcia misplay still hurts) and just one or two moments deciding entire games.
It would really be fun to watch if it wasn’t also anxiety-inducing. But at least this one went the Brewers’ way.
The Brewers got things started early in the first game of the latest meeting between these two teams against lefty reliever Jose Alvarez after scheduled starter Johnny Cueto had to be scratched due to COVID. Christian Yelich continued his recent hot streak with a double down the line, setting up Omar Narvaez for the RBI opportunity, which he quickly cashed in with an RBI single.
Start the scoring early!#ThisIsMyCrew pic.twitter.com/JOHXICmRdo— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) August 31, 2021
The Brewers’ second run came from an unlikely source, as it was Corbin Burnes coming through with an RBI single to give himself a second run of support — which ended up being more than enough for him for much of the night.
#PitchersWhoRake— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) August 31, 2021
He's a Cy Young candidate and a big bat.#ThisIsMyCrew pic.twitter.com/nc0DXuIxl5
On the mound, Burnes was simply electric again. Racking up 16 whiffs on the night, Burnes pitched into the 7th inning before ever really running into trouble. He left the game in the 7th having only allowed 4 hits while striking out 9 with, again, no walks.
Corbin Burnes, Patented 96mph Back Door Cutter. ✂️— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 31, 2021
Arguably the prettiest pitch in baseball. pic.twitter.com/8Atjjfkost
Unfortunately for him, two of those hits came to start the 7th inning, leading to his exit from the game. Brandon Belt led off the bottom of the 7th with a 100.8 mph leadoff double and Kris Bryant ripped a 107.8 mph single against Burnes, causing Craig Counsell to ask Brad Boxberger to get out of the jam.
Boxberger allowed an RBI single to Brandon Crawford in his first batter, charging a run to Burnes, but then get Mike Yastrzemski to tap out in front of home and Alex Dickerson to pop out. Darin Ruf crushed a two-out offering to left field that registered at 107.6 mph off the bat, but it was hit straight to Yelich to end the inning with a 2-1 Brewers lead still intact.
The Brewers responded in the top of the 8th to add an insurance run, though, all started by a great at-bat by Avisail Garcia to draw a walk. He would eventually be forced out at second on a broken bat grounder by Omar Narvaez, but Rowdy Tellez followed with a 114 mph single that got Narvaez to third, and Luis Urias crushed another ball to right field that drove him in on a sacrifice fly.
Urias’ sac fly was the 8th out of 100+ mph in the game between these two teams, and the fourth by the Brewers. The rally tried to continue after that, but the Brewers caught a bit of bad luck when Jace Peterson maybe hit a ball too hard, as his drive into one of the deepest parts of the spacious San Francisco outfield resulted in a ground-rule double, keeping Tellez at third. Jackie Bradley, Jr. grounded out to end the inning.
From there, the Brewers turned to the Devin Williams-Josh Hader 1-2 punch over the last two innings. Williams seemed to have one of those nights where his control wasn’t quite there, but got the good fortune of more hard-hit balls from the Giants finding Brewers gloves. A hard groundout to third by Wilmer Flores and a lineout to second by Brandon Belt bookended a backwards K to Buster Posey in what ended up being a scoreless 8th.
The 9th inning led to more drama, because of course there would be in a Giants-Brewers game this year. Old foe Kris Bryant led off the bottom of the 9th with a double, finding the left field gap on a 97 mph fastball that Hader left in the lower-middle part of the zone.
Hader tried to reach back to find something extra against Crawford, twice hitting 99 on the radar gun before getting him to pop up on a 98 mph fastball. Mike Yastrzemski grounded out to short for the second out, with Tellez saving a somewhat errant throw by Luis Urias to apply the tag in the baseline. Hader hit 98.9 mph again on the game-ending pop out by Austin Slater to seal the deal, with the added note of it being Garcia running in to make the game-ending catch.
The win evened the season series with the Giants at 2-2 and upped the Brewers’ record against the NL West to 21-8. It also upped the Brewers’ lead in the NL Central to 9.5 games with 30 to play after Cincinnati lost to St. Louis.
Brandon Woodruff goes for the Brewers tomorrow night as the Giants will have to find another starter with Alex Wood also going on the COVID list.