'Unfortunate inning' costs Burnes, Brewers vs. Giants

May 6th, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO -- Some nights, it feels like a single play can mark the difference between a win and a loss. That sentiment was undeniably present in the Brewers' clubhouse after they dropped their fifth straight game in Friday night's 6-4 loss to the Giants.

The little things have eluded Milwaukee during the club's season-long losing run, building to a frustration that has become all too familiar of late.

"The big inning hurts tonight," starting pitcher said. "We played a great baseball game, just had the one big inning that got away from us. That was kind of the deciding factor."

The inning in question was the bottom of the fifth, in which the Giants put up a three-spot to go ahead for good. Burnes, who was charged with his second loss after allowing five runs (two earned) on four hits and three walks, put much of the onus on himself, though in reality there was more at play.

With one out in the frame, Burnes had retired eight consecutive batters before allowing a base hit to San Francisco's Brett Wisely. The Giants soon had runners in scoring position when Wisely stole second base, then advanced to third when Willy Adames made an errant throw while fielding a Cal Stevenson grounder.

Burnes was an out away from escaping the jam after freezing LaMonte Wade Jr. on a cutter up in the zone, but he bobbled a high chopper off the bat of Thairo Estrada that came right back at him.

"I make that play reaching across me nine times out of 10," Burnes said.

Estrada's infield single brought a run home, and after J.D. Davis drew a walk, the bases were loaded for Joc Pederson -- who made the Brewers pay with a two-run single.

"It's just an unfortunate inning," manager Craig Counsell said. "Probably the comebacker was almost like a changeup comebacker that got Corbin off-time a little bit and was high enough to just be a tough play."

Said Burnes: "It was a straight top-spin at me. I just thought it was coming off the bat harder, so kind of one of those instinct, swipe-at-it kind of deals, and it just hit around the palm of my glove and bounced out."

All of a sudden, San Francisco was up a run, thanks in no small part to Milwaukee's miscues in the field. Earlier in the game, it briefly seemed like it might play out the other way around.

Considering the Brewers' well-documented struggles against left-handed pitching, they were able to hold their own against Giants southpaw Sean Manaea, charging him with four runs (three earned) on six hits -- but not without a little luck on their side.

Hitting in the leadoff spot for the first time in his career, William Contreras wasted little time by launching a double to right field to open the ballgame. Owen Miller followed that up with a base hit up the middle, and Adames went the other way for an RBI single, breaking out of an 0-for-18 rut in the process.

Milwaukee capped the frame with another run, though it came across in a less conventional way. With two outs and runners on the corners, Manaea had worked an 0-2 count vs. Luke Voit when Brian Anderson -- who had drawn a walk -- made a break for second base. He was caught in a rundown and tagged out to end the inning -- but not before Miller scored from third, putting his team up 2-0.

"We did a nice job with that," Counsell said. "It's an 0-2 count, so it's a time when maybe you take a little risk in that situation."

The Brewers took advantage of another mistake from the Giants in the top of the fifth, when Joey Bart's throwing error allowed Tyrone Taylor to score from third and put Joey Wiemer in position to score on a sacrifice fly.

But those flashes of success don't mean much to the team when the desired results aren't there. Until the Brewers put an end to their extended stay in the loss column, they won't be satisfied with the little victories.

"We're trying to win every game we play," Burnes said. "No one's going to sit back on their heels and say, 'Oh yeah, we were 10 games over .500.' … No one wants to go out there and lose five games in a row. We're playing our [butts] off; we're trying to win baseball games."