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SF Giants: Another excellent bullpen game leads to 6-3 win over Rockies

A three-run rally gave the SF Giants an early lead, and their bullpen, highlighted by Sean Hjelle and Shelby Miller, took it from there.

The SF Giants stayed hot on Wednesday, defeating the Colorado Rockies 6-2 for their eighth win in their last nine games. The Giants took advantage of some early mistakes from the Rockies defense and starting pitcher José Ureña to gain an early lead, and that was more than enough for the team's bullpen.

John Brebbia has been sensational as a Giants opener over the past few weeks. The career-long reliever made his ninth start of the season on Wednesday and completed his ninth shutout inning. He struck out one Rockies hitter without surrendering a baserunner.

In the bottom half of the first, the first four Giants hitters reached base (three singles and a walk) and gave San Francisco an early lead. Shortstop Brandon Crawford came just a few feet away from blasting a three-run homer, but instead made the first out of the inning on a warning-track sacrifice fly. Still, the Giants had a 3-0 lead at the end of the first and never looked back.

SF Giants pitcher Sean Hjelle throws a pitch. (2022)

After recalling Sean Hjelle from Triple-A earlier in the day, the Giants called on the young righty to handle the bulk innings after Brebbia. Hjelle got off to a shaky start, walking the first batter he faced and playing a role in two fielding errors (although one was charged to third baseman David Villar), but he limited the damage to just one run and ultimately found a groove.

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While Hjelle's bulk-inning outing against the Dodgers earlier this month went horribly wrong, he has now gone at least four innings while surrendering two or fewer run in his three other big-league outings this month. Hjelle allowed just two hits and two walks over his four innings of work on Wednesday, allowing one unearned run on the series of mistakes in the second and later, surrendering a solo home run to Rockies second baseman Alan Trejo. While Hjelle has far from dominated this season at Triple-A, he's beginning to look more like a viable up-and-down arm for 2023.

Hjelle was credited with his first-career MLB game and was showered with liquid when he reached the clubhouse. He told reporters after the game about a nauseating concoction that included Red Bull, beer, ketchup, and orange juice. "I'm going to feel gross for a couple of days," he said.

Yet, Hjelle was not the star of this bullpen game. Instead, the pitcher who followed him, former big-league All-Star Shelby Miller continued his impressive start to his career with the Giants. Miller finished two perfect innings against the Rockies, striking out five while continuing to throw split his pitches evenly between his fastball and slider. Miller has only made two appearances since he joined the Giants, but he already had 12 strikeouts in just 4.2 innings pitched with only four hits, zero walks, and zero runs allowed. That surely has the Giants' attention as they contemplate whether they want to retain Miller beyond this season.

The Giants offense added three more runs in the sixth inning, when three singles from Villar, Jason Vosler, and Joey Bart to start the inning set the stage for a sacrifice fly by Ford Proctor and a bases-clearing triple by Joc Pederson.

Armed with a four-run lead, manager Gabe Kapler turned to Tyler Rogers in the eighth, who allowed a double and walk to start the inning before retiring the side without allowing a run, and Yunior Marte in the ninth, who allowed a run to score but finished things out.

The SF Giants are now 77-78, just one game below .500. They will finish their series against the Rockies on Thursday, with first pitch at Oracle Park scheduled for 6:45 PM Pacific.