MILWAUKEE (AP) — Michael Conforto needed some time to adjust to changes he was making in his hitting approach.
Now, he’s seeing the benefits of his new plan.
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Conforto went 4 for 4 with a homer, and six San Francisco pitchers combined on a four-hitter as the Giants beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-0 on Thursday night. Conforto has gone 8 of 17 with three homers and six RBIs over his last four games.
“It’s one of those things that happens in baseball when you’re trying to make adjustments,” Conforto said. “Sometimes it doesn’t kick in right away. You have to be comfortable with it. The timing changes. So we worked through a tough stretch, and now I feel like I’m in a good place.”
Conforto had started tinkering with his process a few weeks ago. He wanted to make his decisions a little later on each pitch, enabling him to stay through the ball. Conforto says when he gets good pitches to hit now, he’s driving the ball rather than fouling it back, as he’d been doing in the past.
This four-game tear has improved Conforto’s batting average from .210 to .239. His OPS has soared from .715 to .810.
Conforto has 11 homers and 22 walks this season. The former New York Mets outfielder has joined Moises Alou, Barry Bonds and Willie Mays as the only Giants players since 1901 to have at least 10 homers and 20 walks in their first 44 games with the team.
“That’s pretty awesome company to be with,” Conforto said. “That’s pretty special.”
Conforto stole a base and reached on each of his five plate appearances with three singles, a solo homer and a walk. LaMonte Wade Jr. went 3 for 5 with an RBI and Casey Schmitt was 2 of 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
They backed up an exceptional all-around performance from San Francisco’s pitching staff.
In a designed bullpen game, Scott Alexander, Taylor Rogers, Jakob Junis (3-2), Sean Manaea, Tyler Rogers and John Brebbia teamed up to strike out 13 and walk two.
The Giants’ triumph spoiled the return of Brewers starter Julio Teheran, who allowed only one run over five innings in his first major league appearance since April 2021, with the Detroit Tigers.
Teheran, an All-Star selection with the Atlanta Braves in 2014 and 2016, had been pitching for the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A affiliate in El Paso, Texas. He opted out of the minor league contract with the Padres and agreed to terms with the Brewers on Tuesday, though the signing wasn’t official until Thursday.
″I’m kind of proud of myself and the job I’ve been doing, to kind of come back in the big leagues,” Teheran said.
The 32-year-old right-hander struck out five and gave up four hits and a walk. The only run Teheran (0-1) allowed came when Wade singled home Schmitt with two outs in the fifth.
“He pitches like he knows what he’s doing, which is kind of what we expected,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Maybe a little lower arm slot than I remember him having, and that makes him a little different. It makes the fastball, makes them react to the fastball a little differently. But he’s using his stuff very effectively.”
Wade’s hit produced the first run the Brewers had allowed since Monday, as they were coming off back-to-back shutout victories over the Houston Astros. The Brewers have three shutout losses and two shutout wins over their last eight games.
The Giants broke the game open by scoring four runs off Tyson Miller in the eighth.
Conforto led off the inning with a 424-foot drive over the wall in center on Miller’s first pitch. Two outs later, Schmitt doubled home two runs and scored on Patrick Bailey’s double.
Milwaukee’s best scoring chance came in the first inning on a long drive from Darin Ruf, but San Francisco’s Mike Yastrzemski made a leaping catch at the wall in right-center to rob his former teammate of an extra-base hit and possible homer.
Ruf played nine games with the Giants this season before getting designated for assignment.
Giants RHP Luke Jackson is expected to pitch Friday for Triple-A Sacramento as he continues his recovery from reconstruction to his ulnar collateral ligament. Giants OF Austin Slater (left hamstring strain) could start a rehabilitation assignment as early as this weekend.
LHP Alex Wood (0-0, 4.05 ERA) starts for the Giants and RHP Freddy Peralta (5-3, 4.15) pitches for the Brewers on Friday night.
TOP PHOTO: Milwaukee Brewers’ Willy Adames hits a double during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)