With tonight’s victory over the Brewers, the Giants haven’t lost since Sunday. They’ve only played three games in the last five days, but hey, even three game winning streaks have been hard to come by this year. This is just their fourth all season. With a win tomorrow, they’ll have their longest winning streak since August 28. Things sure were different then. Andrew McCutchen was still on the team. Bobby Evans was still the general manager. The Giants hadn’t yet gone on an 11-game losing streak.
Looking at the matchup on paper, the Giants were not supposed to win this game. The Brewers had Zach Davies going and he’s been one of the best pitchers in the National League. The Giants had Drew Pomeranz on the bump and he’s been one of the worst pitchers in either league. But Pomeranz pitched okay, and the Giants got to Davies.
It’s always a bit strange a player instantly reverses his performance as soon as a new month begins. There’s no reason for this. The only difference between May 31 and June 1 is that rent is due on the latter. Still, we hear that it’s something that players pay attention to, and we’ll see players flip a switch when the calendar turns. Brandon Crawford went from hitting below the Mendoza line in April of 2018 to hitting like an MVP in May and June. Drew Pomeranz pitched like he desperately wanted to be free of the Giants’ clutches in May. Entering the month, he had a perfectly cromulent 4.08 ERA, but in May, he gave up 22 runs in 10 1/3 innings. His ERA for the month was 19.16 which was bad enough to bring his season ERA up to 8.08. Yet, in June he hasn’t given up an earned run in two starts.
He allowed two unearned runs tonight. He wasn’t perfect by any stretch. The first runner he allowed to cross the plate should have struck out when Orlando Arcia swung over a curve in the dirt, but the call was that he fouled it away. Foul tips aren’t reviewable because they happen in the blink of an eye and they’re often obscured from the umpire’s vision anyway. If there’s one thing umpires are going to get right 100 percent of the time, it’s plays like that.
I’m surprised Pomeranz made it through five innings with only the two unearned runs. He didn’t find him command until the third time through the order. Through the first few innings, he was throwing curve balls in the dirt and way above head height. He was throwing fastballs belt high, but the Brewers weren’t doing anything with them. I suppose he was effectively wild. He missed so badly with his curveballs that the Brewers were stunned he could hit the strike zone at all.
I wouldn’t call this a good outing necessarily. He really didn’t look convincing until the third or fourth inning when he started getting swings and misses. But this also wasn’t the kind of start that leaves me wondering if Pomeranz will make his next one. With how his May went, I’m Pomeranz will take it.
After Pomeranz’s two effective June outings, his ERA is all the way down to 6.43. Another start like this and he’ll be in Matt Moore territory.
Pomeranz pitching effectively is surprising, but nowhere near as surprising as the Giants outhomering the Brewers. The Brewers have two players with 20+ homers already. It’s June! The Giants would be extremely lucky to have even one by the end of the year, and the Brewers already have two and we’re not even halfway through the season.
Tonight, though, the Giants were the ones who looked like the slugging demigods the Brewers are supposed to be. Pablo Sandoval hit an opposite field home run to put the Giants up 2-1. What was impressive about Sandoval’s homer is that Zach Davies had thrown him four straight fastballs before throwing him a changeup. Davies doesn’t have any ole changeup either. It’s one of the ten-best changeups in the majors by pitch values. Sandoval wasn’t fazed.
Earlier in the game, Sandoval hit a double into the right of center, and that was hit even harder than the home run. He almost hit it farther, too. Not that the homer was cheap or anything. No opposite field homer at Oracle Park is cheap.
Kevin Pillar’s home run was a little cheap, though. At 93.1 mph, Pillar’s homer doesn’t count as being hard hit. (The threshold for that is 95+ mph.) The expected batting average was just .150, and there has been just one other homer hit at Oracle this year with a xBA of under .200. Naturally, that was not hit by a Giant. Anyway, here’s Pillar’s home run with a Pocket Monster reference for some reason.
In addition to giving the Giants the lead, Pillar had an eventful night on the basepaths. He got TOOTBLAN’d after successfully stealing second and trying to take third when the play was adequately backed up. He also Jean Claude Van Dammed second base off its moorings after he got picked off.
In Mike Yastrzemski’s first at bat, he had to face off against lefty sidewinder Alex Claudio which seems inherently unfair. You’d hate for your first and possibly only at bat to come against your counter-type, especially when sidewinders are increasingly rare. But in a two-strike count, Yaz went down below the zone and booped a changeup into vegetable garden.
It’s a good thing that Yastrzemski hit that because the Giants desperately needed the insurance with the way Mark Melancon pitched. After erasing a leadoff single with a double play, Melancon walked Jesus Aguilar, gave up a single to Arcia, and walked Travis Shaw. With the bases loaded, Melancon got Cain to an 0-2 count and then he couldn’t find the strike zone. He bounced a curveball five feet in front of the plate to bring home one run and bring the tying run to second. After working the count full, Cain mercifully flew out to end the threat.