The San Francisco Giants (3-1), victors in three out of four contests with the Arizona Diamondbacks to begin the season, now head down to SoCal to confront the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers (5-1), where pundits say they must continue their hot start, if they are to be able to contend this year. The Dodgers are the pace car even though they have been hampered by the loss of Matt Kemp, and now that of Clayton Kershaw. Fortunately, the Giants’ locomotive has picked up momentum in Arizona, is gathering velocity in the desert, and is barreling down to Los Angeles under a full head of steam.
Matters went well for the Orange and Black in Arizona, where their starters, led by Tim Hudson’s sterling debut in a 2-0 win on Wednesday, pitched well enough to keep them in the other games, and their bats blazed up like Halogen headlights, particularly from the seventh inning onward. That ability to come back, which they had to do twice in the first four games, is a characteristic that the Giants retained from last season, when they came back 35 times to win, twelve of them in walk-off fashion, all for a third-place finish. Comebacks are a team ritual, deeply ingrained into the fiber of San Francisco lore.
The Giants cannot afford to dwell on what just occurred at Chase Field, because a team does not advance by looking backwards. No, the focus must be on the immediacy of the moment, and the fact that through the misfortunes of the game, the Dodgers are without the services of the nemesis to beat all, Clayton Kershaw. Without dwelling for one instant on the foibles of Lady Luck, the Giants must strike with the quickness of the rattler, ironic because the rattlers’ assault in the desert, turned out to have little venom in its bite.
Bruce Bochy must utilize his weapons efficiently as he did yesterday, in featuring a lineup that held its own, while keeping volatile firepower on the bench, in the persons of Buster Posey and Michael Morse. When called upon to deliver, they were able to fulfill their obligations by getting on base in front of Angel Pagan, just before he launched his deep drive into the pool region of Chase Field.
Momentum, you see, momentum. Angel Pagan is like that. He provides that explosive infusion at the top of the order, which can dovetail nicely when he steps to the plate, with the bags already primed and ready, as was the case in the eighth inning of yesterday’s game. The energy he propels into the arena is absorbed by all, to be released in the immediate future as needed, such as in the upcoming series against the Dodgers.
Ryan Vogelsong starts today on Opening Day in Los Angeles, the Dodgers now playing in their third opener this early season. They won the one Down Under and spoiled the San Diego Padres’ opener on Sunday. They are trying for their third straight today and they have momentum of their own. They are a formidable opponent.
Nothing comes easy for Vogelsong these days and this will be no exception. However, no one takes a back seat to this veteran, when it comes to grit, and I must assume that he will keep the Giants in the ball game long enough for them to ignite another offensive explosion. After all, neither Hunter Pence nor Pablo Sandoval has gotten into the act so far, and both would like nothing more than to do so in Chavez Ravine.
Momentum feeds off of success; if the Giants are to succeed this season the time to step it up is now. Therefore, taking two out of three against the Dodgers, who do have Matt Kemp in the lineup today, is essential in order to thrive on this seven-game, opening season road trip, one in which we have seen the locomotive gain a full head of steam.
What I’d really like to see is a full-blown runaway train, one that is programmed to remain in runaway mode until November, one that departs from the depot at Chavez Ravine. All aboard!