With a bullpen hit hard by COVID-19, the Milwaukee Brewers will be looking for quality starts when they host the San Francisco Giants on Friday in the opener of a three-game series between division front-runners.
Milwaukee, with an off day Thursday after a 4-2 comeback victory at home against the Pirates on Wednesday, had a 7 1/2-game lead over Cincinnati in the NL Central prior to the Reds game Thursday night. San Francisco, whose 69-40 record is the best in baseball, holds a four-game lead over the Dodgers and 7 1/2 over San Diego after a 5-4 comeback win over Arizona on Thursday.
“The Giants are a very good team,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Just a very complete team. No weaknesses, no kind of holes, no places you can expose. Deep, if that makes sense, the full roster is very productive. Those are tough teams to beat because nothing gets away from them. We know it’s a big challenge.”
Right-hander Corbin Burnes (6-4, 2.46 ERA) starts for the Brewers on Friday, while right-hander Logan Webb (5-3, 3.33) gets the nod for San Francisco.
Burnes, a first-time All-Star this season, has 152 strikeouts with just 20 walks in 106 innings. He has gone at least six innings in 12 of his 18 starts, and five or more innings in four of the others. Burnes is 1-1 with a 10.80 ERA in seven career appearances against the Giants, all in relief.
Webb is 4-0 with a 1.76 ERA in the eight starts since his last loss on May 5. He was on the injured list with a right shoulder strain from June 3 through July 9. Webb, who has never faced Milwaukee, has allowed just six runs in 24 innings in his five starts since returning.
This is the first meeting this season between the Giants and Brewers, who meet again for a four-game set at San Francisco beginning Aug. 30. Milwaukee is 19-6 this season against the NL West and sits second in the NL with a 3.33 team ERA. The Giants are third at 3.36.
After being blanked for eight innings on just three hits by Arizona starter Merrill Kelly on Thursday, the Giants tied it with four runs in the ninth off the bullpen, capped by LaMonte Wade’s two-run single with two outs. Kris Bryant’s RBI double in the 10th provided the game-winner.
“Sometimes, the win is just not giving up that one additional hit early that blows the game open and makes it impossible to come back,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “Really proud of the way the guys fought and believed that they were always in that game. We got to the ninth inning, we felt like we still had a chance to have a big inning and we did.”
According to ESPN stats, the Giants had lost exactly 800 consecutive games when trailing by four or more runs entering the ninth inning since last winning in that fashion on April 18, 1993.
The Brewers’ COVID-19 injured list includes All-Star closer Josh Hader, who has converted 22 of 23 save opportunities and sports a 1.83 ERA. Relievers Hunter Strickland, Jake Cousins and Jandel Gustave also are on the list. Left-hander Eric Lauer, who has started 11 games in 15 appearances, was added to the list on Wednesday.
Trade deadline acquisitions Daniel Norris and John Curtiss, along with veteran call-up Blaine Hardy, faltered in the Brewers’ 8-5 10-inning loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Right-hander Sal Romano, claimed off waivers from the Yankees on Tuesday, was added to the roster to replace Lauer.
The Giants, who lead the majors with 164 home runs, were bolstered by the return of first baseman Brandon Belt, activated Thursday off the injured list.
–Field Level Media