Clutch HRs, 'pen help Giants best Burnes' Crew

Joc Pederson's jack in 8th gets SF going before González's decisive 1st MLB dinger

April 26th, 2022

MILWAUKEE -- Bullpen games are the new norm for the Giants. With injuries to Alex Cobb and Anthony DeSclafani early in the season, San Francisco has leaned on the nontraditional bullpen game to get through outings.

That approach continued on Monday night in a 4-2 win over the Brewers at American Family Field.

This rare one-game matchup marked the second time in four days that manager Gabe Kapler went with reliever Sam Long as the opener. The left-hander logged one scoreless frame as he and seven other Giants relievers combined for nine strikeouts while allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and just one walk.

“Pretty consistent to how they have performed all season long,” Kapler said. “They’ve been prepared and ready for any situation. The bullpen has been nothing short of phenomenal so far this season.”

San Francisco’s bullpen, which ranks first in the Majors in ERA (1.65), did all it could to give the Giants’ offense a chance against reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes.

"I think in the past couple of years we’ve faced their bullpen in a bullpen game a couple of times, and top to bottom, they’ve got good arms coming out of the ‘pen,” Burnes said of the Giants’ bullpen. 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. It’s a good bullpen."

Burnes yielded only two hits and two walks to go with 11 strikeouts, so the Giants’ bullpen was key.

“It’s huge,” Joc Pederson said of the bullpen’s performance. “Our bullpen has been amazing all year and to count on them for a whole game is a huge ask, but they dominated it from the first to the ninth.”

When Burnes exited after 6 2/3 innings, the scoring drought ended when new leadoff hitter Pederson stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth. Pederson, who belted a pair of home runs on Sunday to help the Giants complete a three-game sweep of the Nationals, crushed a no-doubt two-run home run a Statcast-projected 435 feet for a 2-1 lead over the Brewers.

“It’s nice to help the team when you can to win a ballgame,” Pederson said. “The interaction with fans and the excitement of that added more pressure, but I enjoyed it and it was fun.”

Pederson was heckled by fans the entire at-bat, but he didn’t let it get in his head.

“One of the things in the characteristics that I am most proud of is we just stay focused,” Kapler said. “These guys are so locked into their at-bats.”

Pederson’s home run was his sixth of the season and it tied him with Barry Bonds (2000, '01, '02, '04) and Jarrett Parker ('15) for third-most in franchise history in a team’s first 14 games of a season. It also matched Parker and Willie McCovey (1959) for the most home runs through 14 career games with the Giants.

After a tying Willy Adames home run in the eighth inning off veteran reliever Jake McGee, Luis González delivered the decisive blow -- a two-run go-ahead jack in the ninth for his first career homer.

“Really happy,” González said. “It’s just incredible. I’m just loving life right now.”

Kapler added: “He was locking himself in through that whole at-bat. The base hit off Burnes [in the fifth] really gave him a lot of confidence. In that situation, it was the best time for his first Major League home run to show up and [be] so clutch. Also aesthetically, really pretty.”

Camilo Doval sealed it in the ninth inning with his fourth save of the season and gave the Giants an 8-3 road trip, their best winning percentage on a road trip of 10-plus games since July 14-24, 1994.

“It’s nice,” Kapler said. “The road trip finished in dramatic fashion with one of our newer players introduced with his first Major League home run. I think we’re going to enjoy the flight home and get ready for when we get back.”