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Giants undone by timely hitting, lose 4-2

Giants pitching kept the Brewers to just three hits, but when the Brewers hit the ball it goes a long way.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

In the seventh inning, Jesus Aguilar poked at a Tony Watson changeup below the zone. It was a pitch that Watson wanted him to swing at. According to Brooks Baseball, opponents are slugging just .134 against pitches beneath the strike zone and on his arm side. As he swung, Aguilar leaned forward taking his weight off his legs. Aguilar did everything Watson wanted him to do.

Aguilar drove the ball into the right-center gap for a two-run double. It was the game-winning hit.

Watson had been tasked with bailing Hunter Strickland out after Strickland walked the first two batters of the inning. Watson struck out Christian Yelich and later Johnathan Schoop rather convincingly, and he made a good pitch to Aguilar. He just got beat.

If you want to fault Watson, you could say that maybe he shouldn’t have thrown him back-to-back changeups, but Aguilar did not take a balanced swing at that second changeup.

The Brewers beat the Giants despite the Giants outhitting them. Not only that, the Brewers had fewer hits than they had runs scored. How did they do it? Well, the Brewers have really gotten experimental with how they construct their offense. See, they’ve emphasized guys who can draw walks and hit home runs. The idea is that they don’t have to string six singles together to score a run.

It’s a bold strategy. I suppose it’s working out for them.

In the second inning, Duane Kuiper brought up that the Brewers’ starting lineup had outhomered the Giants’ starting lineup by 81. What he didn’t mention is that the Brewers’ starting lineup had outhomered the entire Giants roster by 23. After Ryan Braun’s dinger in the first, the Brewers had hit 145 homers. As a team, the Giants have hit 122. The Brewers are an elite longball team—they’re tied for the sixth in the majors—but nine dudes shouldn’t be able to outhomer the 22 position players the Giants have used all year.

Alen Hanson has helped the Giants save some face in that category. In the fifth, Hanson hit his second home run of the week, and it was a pretty one.

If it’s not geographically possible for long home runs to land in a body of water or on a street, it should be required for the upper deck to be as close as Miller Park’s second deck.

Hanson now has as many home runs as he has walks. I’m ready to believe he has playable power. He probably won’t be the guy to break the Giants’ 30 homer drought, but maybe he could hit 20 over a full season. At the very least, he could lead the team in dingers. If he could just learn to draw walks, I’d be all aboard the Hanson train. Players generally don’t learn to draw walks, but still: Alen Hanson with average discipline would be a beautiful thing.

Maybe he just shouldn’t ever swing at the first pitch like Pablo Sandoval. It’s that easy, right?

This probably didn’t affect the outcome of the game, but Adam Hamari’s strike zone in the fourth inning was pretty frustrating. On a 3-0 count to Nick Hundley, Hamari called a pitch that was a baseball’s width outside a strike.

The strike zone expands a bit on 3-0. Umpires have a tendency to call borderline pitches in favor of the player who is behind. But that wasn’t a borderline pitch. That was well outside.

Hundley wound up popping out instead of drawing a walk. If that were it, I probably wouldn’t have written about it. It stinks that a Giant did something right and he wasn’t rewarded, but this happens all the time. The Giants missed out on a bases-loaded, one out situation, but it’s unlikely the Giants would have gotten more than the one they got.

But then, in the bottom of the inning, Derek Holland had Travis Shaw to a full count and threw him an actual borderline pitch.

That’s a ball, but it’s definitely closer than the pitch to Hundley that was called a strike. This isn’t to say that Holland got shafted, but to show just how bad the 3-0 call to Hundley was. Holland got the next batter out, but instead of ending the inning it put a runner in scoring position.

Steven Okert pitched an inning and didn’t allow a run. I feel that this is a positive development. Not only that, he struck out the side. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t say a pitcher struck out the side if there was a baserunner, but Travis Shaw only reached on an error. He has now pitched two innings in 2018 with a strikeout rate of 43 percent. I’m comfortable in saying this sample size is large enough to say this is indicative of his current talent. His slider will eat hitters alive. At least until Ryan Braun hits a dinger over the slide against him tomorrow.

I’ve only been to Miller Park once, and this was in 2016 before the Brewers were good. I remember two things about that game: Johnny Cueto was awesome, and some dude in my section made a challenge. He shouted out, “I will give a dollar to anyone who can tell me Buster Posey’s real name.” I shouted back, “Gerald Dempsey Posey III.” He clearly heard me, but he pretended not to. I solved his Gerald puzzle, so he owed me a dollar. He did not give me a dollar.

So now, Brewers dude, if you’re reading this: Gimme my dollar. Find me on Venmo.