By: Jake Kucheck
Quick Note: These summaries are intended to summarize on-field baseball, but it is definitely worth mentioning that on Friday night, the Giants agreed to terms with 1st baseman Brandon Belt on a 6 year, $79 Million deal, buying out his final arbitration year and setting a record for amount of money owed to infielders named Brandon under contract on any one MLB team. Fellow left handed hitter Brandon Crawford signed a similar, 6 year, $75 Million deal in the offseason to be the Giants long term Shortstop.
Quick Game Summaries:
Mon 4/4 (Opening Day): Giants 12, Brewers 3 (W- Bumgarner)
Tue 4/5: Giants 2, Brewers 1 (W- Cueto)
Wed 4/6: Brewers 4, Giants 3 (L- Lopez)
Thu 4/7: Giants 12, Dodgers 6 (W- Heston)
Fri 4/8: Giants 3, Dodgers 2 (1o innings, W- Casilla)
Sat 4/9: Dodgers 3, Giants 2 (L- Kontos)
Sun 4/10: Giants 9, Dodgers 6 (W- Cueto)
Delightfully Weird Baseball
It wouldn’t be baseball season in the 7 x 7 without some weirdness afoot. While the Orange & Black Attack got things rolling on opening day in Milwaukee with back to back to back homers from the newly acquired Denard Span, the flourishing Joe Panik, and the always amazing Buster Posey, the Giants were not without their troubles. From persevering through difficult travel logistics to nearly half the lineup (and opening day starter Madison Bumgarner) suffering from the flu, even closing the week at .500 might have been seen as a positive outcome. The Giants managed to do slightly better than that, finishing the week at 5-2, and even more importantly, 3-1 against the rival Dodgers and perched atop the NL West.
Some highlights include:
- The Ross Stripling game. Who? I pride myself on obscure baseball player knowledge, and am usually surprised when there is a player playing in a major league game that I don’t have at least a little familiarity with. Such is the case with Dodgers 5th starter, Ross Stripling. Generally, one would expect an anonymous 5th SP making his debut against Matt Cain at AT&T on a Friday evening would be a plus matchup for the Giants. However, with Buster Posey sitting after a grueling week of the flu, day games after night games, and travel, the outcome was uncertain to say the least. No one expected Stripling to nearly pull off a Bumpus Jones (obscure 1890s pitcher alert!) prior to being pulled after 7 1/3 innings, 100 pitches, and exactly zero hits. What’s more, the no-hitter was broken up in dramatic fashion by backup catcher Trevor Brown’s first career home run off of relief pitcher Chris Hatcher. The only fitting end to this was a Brandon Crawford walkoff, and in the 10th inning, Crawford delivered an opposite field shot to send the AT&T crowd home happy.
- The dingers. In a week where Robinson Cano made waves and Trevor Story is still making tsunamis for hitting home runs in consecutive games to start the season, the Giants historic dinger “rationing” may go overlooked. It shouldn’t. Every Giants regular (Span, Panik, Posey, Pence, Belt, Duffy, Pagan) has gone yard, as has Madison Bumgarner, and none of these gentlemen have done so more than twice. That kind of symmetry and power distribution is rare, and indicative of what a formidable lineup the Giants have managed to put together from 1-7, 9 on days where Bumgarner isn’t pitching, and 1-9 when he is. As you may have gleaned, the Giants are hitting all pitchers 8th this year, with Pagan hitting “second leadoff” and giving up his CF role in an admirable show of dual humility.
- Johnny Cueto. The Giants knew there was some risk here, but Cueto is already shaping up to be a roller coaster. He was undeniably brilliant in his Giants debut against the Brewers on Tuesday, throwing 7 innings of controlled 1 run baseball, scattering six hits, and walking none. Then, up against the Dodgers in his Sunday start, Cueto gave up 5 runs in the first inning ALONE. To his credit, Cueto then settled down and gave the Giants enough quality innings to give them a chance to battle back, and eventually picking up the win after again completing 7 innings.
The Giants get a much deserved day off after playing 7 consecutive games, and then find themselves with a three game set in Denver against a streaking Trevor Story and the Colorado Rockies. The back end of the rotation (Samardzija, Peavy and Cain) will do their best to work well into the game, as Coors field can quickly turn games into bullpen draining shootouts, and the Giants will want their pen well rested when their road trip continues into So Cal for a quick rematch with the Dodgers.
While the Giants will likely be happy that they’ll miss Ross Stripling in the rotation, a second Bumgarner-Kershaw battle awaits us in the series opener Friday night, and will likely set the tone for the series, which will conclude with a nationally televised dual between Jeff Samardzija and the Dodgers newest Japanese sensation, Kenta Maeda, who pitched 6 strong innings and struck out 4, while contributing a dinger to the offensive cause in a win over the Padres in his first MLB start.
See you next week!