Giants 2013: Week In Review 4/9
(originally written 4/9/13)
at Los Angeles Dodgers
First off: why couldn't Pablo Sandoval's two-out first inning liner have actually decapitated Clayton Kershaw in the season opener? (Kidding). Not only did he buzz through the Giants' lineup (only Sandoval and Angel Pagan managed hits)—he did the same to Pittsburgh days later and appears to be even stronger than ever. In case you forgot, Kershaw has made a career of Giants killing. A decapitation may be the only way to curb his dominance.
San Francisco did go on to a series win, as Madison Bumgarner did his best Kershaw impression in Game No. 2 and Joaquin Arias handled first base with aplomb. Arias dug out multiple tough hops and impressively stayed with a Carl Crawford pop-up that, had he hit it in his old home ballpark of Tropicana Field, may have went through the roof. Make no mistake, folks—that catch was not easy in any way.
Though minus the flair of Kershaw's opening day home run, "The Eagle" as I call Bumgarner, also contributed to his own cause with the bat. He garnered a single and extracted 14 pitches in his other two at-bats—the latter of which led to an error and two SF runs.
Sandoval and Hunter Pence powered SF to victory in the rubber match. Sandoval, who's subtly displayed a bit more selectivity at the plate overall, has been susceptible to high heat in the early going—chasing most and hitting none. That is, until he connected off Josh Beckett on a chest-high heater that was not a mistake.
It seemed in every at-bat of the series, Adrian Gonzalez smacked a deep fly ball, inciting "OOOOH's" from the easily-excitable Dodger crowd. (Speaking of A-Gone, why was he repeatedly feeling up Marco Scutaro at first base after pickoff attempts, when he no longer had the ball?)
vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Then the Giants came home to one of the best ceremonies ever (not just baseball, mind you). Only thrice before has baseball given me chills: Hank Aaron's 715th home run as Bill Buckner hangs off the wall in a desperate attempt to save his pitcher from infamy, the last out of Nolan Ryan's seventh no-hitter and Edgar Renteria's home run off Cliff Lee in the 2010 World Series.
The '13 Giants home opener now makes the list. Great to see the now-retired Huff there for his ring. Curious as to the whereabouts of Brian Wilson, Willie Mota, Brad Penny, Ryan Theriot and Freddy Sanchez—and why coach Shawon Dunston and infielder Nick Noonan both wear No. 21. (Note: Noonan ripped his first MLB hit over the weekend.)
It seems to me that, with the exception of Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran, every Cardinals hitter is the same player. They all grind out at-bats. They all use the whole field. They're all pests. They're all even starting to look alike, at least to me. They were without the injured David Freese and missed not one beat in taking the series 2-1.
Despite a small strike zone, and with the help of fantastic defense by Sandoval at third base, Barry Zito held St. Louis scoreless through seven innings in the opener—a 1-0 win closed out by Sergio Romo. The one run came via a bases-loaded walk by Pagan following a rare error by catcher Yadier Molina, who fumbled Zito's sacrifice bunt.
A tough luck loss to rookie Shelby Miller followed, and the week ended with a shocking blowout behind Matt Cain, who surrendered nine earned runs in the fourth inning and proved once and for all that he should never be allowed to face Matt Carpenter ever again for any reason. Something bad will happen. In fact, if Carpenter ever joins the Giants, it would not surprise me at all to watch him make errors and put up oh-fers in every Cain start. He was born to cause The Horse some grief.
We still haven't gotten any explanation as to why both Hyun-jin Ryu and Beltran ran out ground balls at roughly 50 percent when neither appeared to be injured or left the game. Not that I'm complaining, as a Giants fan.
Holliday has the potential to be the Giants villain of his era, if he's not already. Remember, during Cain's very early career, the two got into a shouting match after Holliday admired a home run. Then there was last year's attempted demolition of Scutaro in the playoffs. Karma set in when Holliday fumbled Scutaro's subsequent hit into an insurance run, and when he popped out to Scutaro for the series' final out—sandwiched around an obviously retaliatory plunk by Cain.
Reigning MVP Buster Posey did not put up a single RBI during the week despite several chances. His swing seems fine and he's not chasing; he just appears to be rolling over pitches.
Broadcasting Quotes of the Week:
"The ball's not carryin' to right field." — Mike Krukow, on a Pence pop-up to second base (April 5, second inning).
"Do they have the DH in the Korean League?" Krukow wonders, as Ryu bails out badly on a Bumgarner breaking ball. "Or curveballs?" quips Duane Kuiper. (In fairness, Scutaro was totally buckled by a Beckett curveball in the last contest of the series.)