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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Opening Day: Giants Prevail Despite Defense

Well, I'm sure I wasn't the only one shaking my head and wondering if this team was still mentally in Spring Training mode as they repeatedly fumbled playable balls and failed on routine plays like a simple run-down.

It was certainly a forgettable game on the defensive front for Pablo Sandoval, Joaquin Arias and Brandon Belt, but luckily for those three, the Giants tapped into some of their comeback mojo, 2012 style, and erased a 7-3 deficit in the late innings.

San Francisco got on the board first as Angel Pagan drove in Brandon Crawford with an RBI single in the 3rd inning but Arizona came answering back with a 4 spot in the bottom of the fourth inning. They were all of the unearned variety as Madison Bumgarner pitched through some tough luck. It was a strange game in which Bumgarner wasn't really as sharp as he is when he's on and there were runners on seemingly all night, but none of the four runs the D-Backs plated vs. him were earned. He wasn't throwing particularly hard and he was missing with a lot of stuff up in the zone, but he's still good enough with that elusive delivery to get by when he's not on his A-game. The defense played like they were still in the Cactus League Monday and the offense took some time to get woken up, but they all the sudden found their groove in the 6th inning and put up a 7 spot over the last few innings of the game to re-take the lead. Brandon Belt hit a majestic shot over the right field wall in the 6th to make it 6-3 D-Backs (helping him cover for his mistake on that blown rundown), and that shifted the momentum back into the Giants dugout and they never relinquished it. The final blow of the night came off the bat of Buster Posey, breaking a 7-7 tie in the top of the ninth inning with a 2-run, no-doubter off the facing of the second deck in left served up by new D-Back closer Addison Reed.

While the defensive mishaps had me a bit flustered, this was an exciting opener, and one that gives you optimism if your a Giants fan. Again, Bumgarner's start wasn't quite the efficient outing he was hoping for in his first ever OD assignment. His end line wound up 4 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K on 78 pitches. Not terrible, but the blemish here was the 8 base runners allowed in 4 innings (a clear indication he didn't have A-stuff). He pitched through some bone-headed defensive mishaps, and kept the team in the game which they ultimately were able to come back in. The comeback can be attributed to the lineup which answered the bell when they needed to, even after Petit allowed a few more runs putting them further behind. It took them a few innings to get McCarthy figured out, but they did indeed do just that and managed to get into Arizona's beatable bullpen. Brandon Belt (3-5, HR, 3 R), Buster Posey (2-5, HR, 2 RBI) and Angel Pagan (2-5, 2 RBI, R) were the offensive catalysts for the night, as the Giants new and improved lineup certainly looked the part in game one. Newcomer Michael Morse even got into the mix with a hit, walk and run scored in 4 plate appearances. The only Giants' starters without a hit were Hunter Pence and Joaquin Arias, but Pence made his presence felt in the field with a crucial assist gunning down Mark Trumbo at third base early in the game to help avoid what may have been a huge inning for Arizona. I'm definitely liking the depth in the Giants lineup right now compared to where they were at this point last year.

This one felt good for a number of reasons. Obviously, it was opening day which is always sweet victory, but in addition it was on the road vs. a solid inner-division team where the Giants got themselves in a hole, then dug themselves out by erasing a 4-run deficit and prevail for a win in impressive fashion. The bullpen wasn't great, as Romo was touched up for a run and made things more interesting that I'd prefer in the 9th, but ultimately got the job done. Also, Yusmiero Petit had trouble fooling anyone, allowing 6 hits, a walk and 3 runs after taking over for MadBum in the 5th. The bullpen depth is something I'll be watching very closely early on, as it's one area that I have a slight concern with. The Giants don't have 3 shut down guys down there that can shorten a game like the Dodgers do and some of the other elite teams in the game.

To wrap it up in a few shorts sentences, Opening Day has to be deemed a success because of the win and the fact nobody got hurt. There were some things that happened that need to be addressed and fixed immediately, but all in all a successful opener and onto the next... Go get 'em Cainer! It looks like the Bochy mixed some things up in terms of the batting order for Tuesday's game vs. the lefty Wade Miley with Hunter Pence moving up into the 2-hole for the first time in his Giants' tenure.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 10:04 PM, Anonymous B.J. Rassam said…

    Big Opening Day win for the Giants - sets the right tone.


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