Giants playing their best baseball in 12 months, take down first-place Brewers at home

The San Francisco Giants are 7-4 in June after hitting three home runs in a win over the Brewers

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 14: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates a two run home run during the fourth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Oracle Park on June 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
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SAN FRANCISCO — A June swoon, you ask?

Not around the foggy confines of China Basin, where the Giants are playing their best baseball in a full year.

For the second time this month, the Giants have won three in a row as they took down the Milwaukee Brewers 5-3 on the strength of three home runs, a solid night from starter Drew Pomeranz and four innings of one-run ball from a quartet of relievers.

Pablo Sandoval, Kevin Pillar and Mike Yastrzemski all homered for the Giants as they turned the tables on the first-place Brewers, who entered the night leading the National League with 121 home runs as a team. The Giants had half as many (60) and had only hit 21 at home before enjoying their sixth three-homer game of the year against Milwaukee.

“I think sometimes when you have this thought that it’s hard to drive the ball out of the yard here, you do a little bit less,” Pillar said. “Today was just a matter of me getting good pitches.”

The Giants are 7-4 through their first 11 games in June, but maintaining success and recording their first winning month since June of last season promises to be a grueling challenge. Bruce Bochy’s squad began a stretch of 20 games in a row with no off days on Friday and the 16 remaining games in June all come against teams at least three games over .500.

“After this we hit the road and play some really good teams,” Bochy said. “Playing better at home, from this point on, that’s going to be critical for us.”

Since the Giants went 17-10 in June, 2016, the franchise has posted a winning record in just one of the 16 full months of games that followed. That came when the 2018 Giants went 18-10 in June and a year later, the club is giving its manager hope that the season may not be as lost as it once looked.

Brewers starter Zach Davies entered Friday’s start with the fourth-best ERA among National League starters, but the Giants became just the fourth team this season to score at least three runs off Davies.

Davies had allowed two home runs in the same game in just one of his 13 starts, but Kevin Pillar and Pablo Sandoval homered in consecutive innings to give the Giants a 3-2 lead in the fifth.

Sandoval’s home run followed a first-inning double and marked his 23rd extra-base hit of the season. With 14 doubles and nine home runs, the corner infielder has the highest slugging percentage (.557) of any Giants regular.

Pillar’s eighth home run of the year broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth and helped him move closer to breaking an extended drought for right-handed hitters at Oracle Park. Since Buster Posey hit 11 home runs at home in 2014, no right-hander on the Giants has hit more than seven in a single season.

Of Pillar’s eight home runs, seven have now come at home and he’ll have 47 more games at Oracle Park this year to add to his total.

“Tonight was the type of game I expect out of myself a little bit more,” Pillar said. “I don’t expect to be perfect at the plate all the time, but I do expect to have this mindset to go out and try to be the best player on the field every single day.”

Both of the runs Pomeranz allowed on Friday were unearned, but the first should have been charged to home plate umpire Paul Emmel. Television replays showed that Pomeranz clearly induced a swing and miss on a two-strike pitch to Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia, but Emmel ruled that Arcia fouled the ball into the dirt behind home plate.

Emmel’s decision extended the plate appearance, which resulted in a leadoff walk to open the third inning. With one out, Arcia scored the game’s first run on catcher Buster Posey’s first passed ball of the season as Posey failed to handle a cutter well off the outside corner.

Emmel and Posey had to shoulder responsibility for the first run while Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford knows his fifth inning misplay led to the second. Crawford booted a routine grounder hit by Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who later stole second and scored on a single to left field from reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich.

Pomeranz didn’t pitch deep enough into Friday’s game to record a quality start, but with an improved curveball, he has now thrown 10 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run after giving up eight in a disastrous outing against the Orioles on May 31.

“I’m just trying to throw quality strikes and stay in good counts and I think all of those things lead to keeping the ball in the ballpark,” Pomeranz said.

With five shutout frames against the Dodgers and five strong innings against the Brewers, Pomeranz has recorded two of his best starts against a pair of division leaders.

“You look at the last two outings, he’s been a different guy,” Bochy said. “With the command of all of his pitches, he’s going to run some deep counts, but I thought his breaking ball got better as he went. He’s got to feel good about his little adjustment.”

The left-hander credits his sudden resurgence to tweaking his arm slot, which has clearly his pitches more difficult to barrel up. The Brewers only hit two balls harder than 95 miles per hour against Pomeranz, while the Giants hit five such balls against Davies.

“Coming into this game, (Davies) was 7-0, a great ERA and we found a way to get enough runs,” Bochy said.

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