MILWAUKEE — If the Giants looked listless at the plate Thursday in the first game of their double-header against the Brewers, maybe it’s because they landed in Milwaukee at about 1:30 a.m., a little under 12 hours before first pitch.
Once meant to be a travel day from Los Angeles to Chicago turned into a bleary eyed twin bill about 90 minutes up the shores of Lake Michigan, making up their final two games with the Brewers lost to the lockout at the start of the season.
But then again, maybe it’s because they were facing Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee’s ace and last year’s National League Cy Young winner, who is vying with Carlos Rodón for the major-league lead in strikeouts.
And the Giants did no favors to their teammate in that race, fanning 14 times in eight innings against Burnes, in a 2-1 loss. The teams will disperse back to their respective clubhouses for 45 minutes, then play the second game, before the Giants head to Chicago for the final three games of this trip at Wrigley Field.
In his last game here, Joc Pederson slugged a late-inning home run that he said was fueled by taunts from the Milwaukee fans. On Thursday, it was Pederson doing the chirping after becoming one of Burnes’ first strikeout victims leading off the second inning.
The pitch was low and inside, but home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez determined that it crossed the black above Pederson’s knees and rung him up. Pederson took strike three on another borderline pitch in the fourth, and Burnes received the benefit of the doubt against Mike Yastrzemski in the sixth, too.
But with his tantalizing upper 90s cutter and three other plus pitches complimenting it, Burnes needed no help from the man in black behind home plate. He generated 26 swinging strikes, which tied the most times the Giants have swung and missed against a single pitcher this season.
The last time?
Against Burnes, in a 4-2 loss April 25, in the first of the three makeup games from the delayed start to the season.
That, supposedly, is one down side of splitting up that original three-game series: double the exposure to one of the National League’s best pitchers.
Burnes ended his outing with 214 strikeouts on the season, eclipsing Rodón (201) for the NL lead.
The Giants’ 14 strikeouts came one away from matching a season-high.
Faced with covering 18 innings after tossing a bullpen game on Tuesday, the Giants went with an opener — Scott Alexander – before handing the game over to Jakob Junis in the second inning.
The combo of Junis and Alexander held Milwaukee hitless once through the lineup, but one blip in the fourth was all the Brewers needed with Burnes on the mound.
Jace Peterson led off with a single, then stole second base and scored on a double by Christian Yelich, who traded places with the next batter, Hunter Renfroe, to account for all Milwaukee’s runs. Yelich’s double fell well out of the reach of a diving Mike Yastrzemski, while Renfroe’s bounced over the left-field wall after Joc Pederson was unable to chase it down.
The Giants opened a 1-0 lead in the top of the third with two of their only three hits against Burnes.
LaMonte Wade poked a single into left field for San Francisco’s first hit, and Yastrzemski doubled him home, with third-base coach Mark Hallberg, knowing the difficult run-scoring environment versus Burnes, waving Wade home from first and making it about three-quarters of the way down the line, himself.
Rookie David Villar beat out an infield single for the Giants’ only other hit.
Contributed by local news sources