With big days from Mike Yastrzemski and Joc Pederson and an immaculate effort from their bullpen, the Giants beat the Rockies, 3-0, on Thursday, to complete their first four-game sweep of the season.
The Giants’ combined shutout — using six pitchers in their second bullpen game of the series — was their first at Coors Field since 2012 and their fifth time blanking the home team since the mile-high ballpark opened in 1997.
Here are some takeaways.
Thunder and lightning: Yastrzemski and Pederson teamed up to produce the Giants’ first two runs and turned in a pair of multi-hit efforts — while proving there are multiple ways to find success in the batter’s box.
In a strange twist, Yastrzemski brought the power and Pederson brought the speed.
Yastrzemski, who loves hitting at Coors (a 1.096 career OPS), hammered the hardest- and the furthest-hit balls of the game, resulting in a first-inning double and a sixth-inning shot. The double into the right field corner left Yastrzemski’s bat at 106.2 mph. The homer into the right-field seats traveled 425 feet, second only to his 430-foot shot Monday night for his longest of the season.
Pederson drove Yastrzemski home from second to open the scoring in the first with a line-drive single to center, but his other two hits didn’t leave the infield. In his second trip to the plate, he found the hole in the shift with a soft roller toward third base. And in his third at-bat, he singled on a high-hopper that shortstop Alan Trejo couldn’t handle.
It was Pederson’s third game with three hits this season. The Giants’ leader: Wilmer Flores, with 10 such games this season. Next are Thairo Estrada and Joey Bart, with four each.
LaMonte Wade Jr., who started Thursday’s game in left field after exiting early Wednesday with hamstring tightness, singled home Luis González, who also had a pair of hits, for an insurance run in the seventh.
Brebbia, the opener: Not only does John Brebbia lead the majors in appearances, he also leads relievers in games opened. On Thursday, he did it for the second time in three games, tossing a scoreless first inning.
A combination of five more relievers followed Brebbia with eight more scoreless frames, blanking the Rockies at Coors Field for the first time since 2012 — only the fourth time San Francisco has tossed a shutout at the mile-high ballpark since it opened in 1997.
Combined with Logan Webb’s near-no-hit bid Wednesday, the Giants allowed fewer runs over the past two games (one) than any other two-game stretch in their history at Coors Field. Including their 6-3 win in another bullpen game Tuesday, it was the fewest runs the Giants have allowed in any three-game stretch there, too.
Brebbia, who also opened Tuesday’s game, became the second Giants pitcher since 1969 to start multiple games in a single series, joining Dominic Leone last season.
“I enjoy it,” Brebbia said in an interview earlier this month, “so if (Kapler) wants me to open, then I’m great with it.”
The Giants’ use of Brebbia this series speaks to their larger reliance on their relievers, who were asked to toss two bullpen games — both started by Brebbia — and cover more than half of Monday night’s series opener. How’d it go? Not only did the Giants emerge with a four-game sweep, much of the credit is due to their bullpen.
In four games this series, Giants relievers limited the Rockies — in Coors Field! — to five runs (four earned) over 27⅓ innings, a 1.32 ERA.
Brebbia, whose 2.81 ERA is second only to Camilo Doval in the bullpen, hasn’t allowed a run in any of his eight appearances as an opener.
While Brebbia is fending off a group of relievers — Toronto’s Adam Cimber (70), Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase (69), Atlanta’s A.J. Minter (68) — for the major-league lead in appearances, the only pitcher to come close in games “opened” (defined as a game started by a nontraditional starter lasting three or fewer innings) is Tampa Bay’s Jalen Beeks, who has done it seven times for the Rays.
With 12 games remaining, it seems unlikely — though not impossible — that Brebbia catches Tyler Rogers’ 2021 (80 appearances) for the most in recent Giants history (since 2004-05, when there were three relief seasons with 80+ appearances).
Pour one out: The Giants wrapped up their slate at Coors Field with their first four-game sweep of the season.
It took until their last four-game set of the season to record their first sweep. In the previous 10, they had been swept twice (both by the Dodgers), lost two more and split four. All three of their four-game series wins have come since taking three of four from Milwaukee entering the All-Star break, despite going 28-35 over that span.
It was also the Giants’ second straight road series win of at least three games, after losing (eight) or tying (one) nine straight series away from home since mid-June, while going 36-49.
Despite the sweep, the Giants will still spend the final 12 games of the season attempting to avoid their worst record in divisional play since it began in 1969. Their record this year: 25-39, a .390 winning percentage. Their worst season: 1985, when they went 30-60 (.333).
The Giants improved to 11-5 this season against the Rockies, the only divisional foe they have clinched a winning record against after finishing last season above .500 against all four NL West opponents while posting the best divisional record of any team in the majors (53-23, .697). They must win four of their last six to avoid losing the season series against the D-backs, a team they went 17-2 against last season, with their final games at Chase Field on deck to wrap up this trip.
The sweep sets them on good course to avoid setting less than illustrious franchise history and also makes the task of finishing at .500 more feasible: San Francisco must finish 8-4 to avoid becoming the fourth team in MLB history to follow a 100-win season with a losing record.