García’s OF flub costly in 'crazy' contest

August 8th, 2021

Two National League powerhouses. Extra innings. Late heroics from both sides. Saturday night’s Giants-Brewers game “got a little crazy,” as Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell put it.

It also likely never should have gotten to that point. At least not according to the Statcast data.

Before the Crew lost, 9-6, in 11 innings at American Family Field, they nearly came away with a win in a low-scoring affair -- as crazy as that may sound just by looking at the final score. But the Giants were down to their final out, and Brewers left-hander Brent Suter, seeking his first career MLB save, induced a Tommy La Stella fly ball that seemed like it was going to end the game.

It left the bat with an exit velocity of 93.7 mph with a launch angle of 46 degrees for an expected batting average of .010, per Statcast. In simpler terms, an unlikely hit and a probable game-ending out.

Instead, right fielder couldn’t haul it in. He took an indirect route and got backed up against the wall, while the ball dropped onto the warning track -- a play initially ruled an error for García, before La Stella was credited with a game-tying ninth-inning RBI triple. On Sunday morning came yet another change of heart; the official scorer’s decision was changed back to an error.

“Avi, I know he feels terrible, and that’s definitely not from a lack of trying,” Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff said. “Sometimes the game can be brutal to you. But Avi has been such a huge part of our team, and he’s played so unbelievably out in right field, and with his arm, has saved a ton of runs. It was one of those freak things that kind of happened.”

Suter got a rare save opportunity with left-hander Josh Hader currently on the COVID-19 injured list. And while Suter was so close to getting the job done -- and in many cases, he likely would have -- he was quick to tip his cap to the opposing side.

“You’ve got to give La Stella some credit there, an up-and-in pitch and he just got some barrel to it,” Suter said. “He got it up there and it was moving around and stuff. One that we thought we had, but that’s a good team over there.”

The Crew fought back, though, even after the Giants carried their momentum into extras by rallying for three runs to take a 5-2 lead in the 10th.

At that point, Luis Urías opened the bottom of the inning with a pinch-hit two-run homer. Two batters later, Willy Adames tied the game at 5 with a solo home run. Just like that, the Brewers were back in it with another chance to pull out a win.

But Milwaukee couldn’t push across the winning run. And as the game advanced to the 11th, San Francisco pulled back ahead with a four-run rally off right-hander Sal Romano, taking the lead on a LaMonte Wade Jr. RBI single and padding its advantage with a Brandon Belt two-run homer -- his second long ball of the night -- and a Kris Bryant RBI double.

“It’s a tough one,” said Woodruff, who struck out eight over six innings of one-run ball and had been in line for his first win since June 29.

The three-base error in the ninth wasn’t the Brewers’ only tough break of the night. They could have potentially had a larger lead to protect, because García had hit a two-out double to the left-center-field gap in the fifth that should have plated Eduardo Escobar from first.

However, the ball bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double, Escobar was forced to hold at third and left-hander José Álvarez got Rowdy Tellez to pop out, keeping Milwaukee’s lead at 2-1.

“That cost us a run there, but that was the only inning we really had a rally going,” Counsell said. “We didn’t put much pressure on their bullpen, so their bullpen did a nice job.”

The Giants have the best record in MLB at 70-41. The Brewers are tied with the Dodgers for the second-best mark in the NL at 66-45. The two clubs could meet again in October, and so far, this weekend’s potential postseason preview is living up to the hype.

On Friday, the Crew won, 2-1, in 10 innings. And while the Brewers couldn’t hold on Saturday, their rotation continues to show why they could be a difficult opponent in a playoff series. Corbin Burnes tossed seven innings of one-run ball in the opener, which was followed by Woodruff’s stellar outing.

“That’s a really good lineup, and obviously a lot of those guys have multiple World Series rings,” Woodruff said of the Giants. “There’s not a moment too big for any of those guys, they’ve seen it all, so it was tough.”

Yet, the Crew is proving it can play with the best in the big leagues. And maybe next time, the breaks will go the Brewers' way.