San Francisco Giants’ Bats Are Not the Only Story to Hot Start
By Mark ONeill
Brandon Hicks batting in Spring Training on March 10, 2014. Photo by Denise Walos.
Today marks the sixth consecutive home opening victory for the San Francisco Giants, and the twelfth overall in fifteen openers at AT&T Park. The Giants’ bats have been the story so far, but there are also a number of elements about the Giants that bear a closer look than I had space for in the recap.
After Brandon Belt’s blast today in the first inning, the Giants lead the major leagues with twelve home runs. They have scored 47 runs so far in eight games.
In two starts, Tim Hudson has given up ten hits and two earned runs in fifteen and two-thirds innings, striking out eleven and walking none.
The Giants have won all three openers in which they have played this season, spoiling home openers in both Arizona and Los Angeles. Conversely, Arizona has lost all four openers in which they have played, beginning with the one in Australia, and then losing in Los Angeles, at home and then today, in San Francisco.
Brandon Belt became the first Giants’ player since Jose Cruz, Jr. in 2003, to hit five home runs in his first eight games. Others include Willie Mays, and Barry Bonds, who hit six home runs in the first eight games in 2002, the year after he broke the single season record.
In the first eight games, lead off hitter, Angel Pagan, is hitting .441, with fifteen hits and eight RBI’s and a .647 slugging percentage. He has had a base hit in every game so far this season.
Number two hitter, Brandon Belt, is hitting .343, with twelve hits, including a league-best five home runs, and nine RBI’s. He has twenty-nine total bases, third in the major leagues.
Newcomer Michael Morse has a .391 batting average, with 12 hits and seven RBI’s, all coming during a five-game consecutive streak, including today’s two-run knock with two outs in the fourth.
San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) . Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Buster Posey, who had a very productive spring, is batting .310, with two home runs and five RBI’s
The Giants’ pitching staff has a cumulative ERA of 3.69 with a WHIP of 1.26. They are averaging 8.41 K’s per nine innings. The walk to strike out ratio is a whopping 12 to 57.
The Giants have been hitting with runners in scoring position, leading the league with a gaudy .397 average, they have been getting two-strike base hits with two-out base hits, and they have been playing lights-out defense.
It was a special day for Brandon Hicks who started his first Opening Day game. In speaking to reporters before the game, Bruce Bochy made it clear that it was Hicks’s defensive play on the most recent road trip, that helped him decide to start Hicks today.
And finally, Brian Sabean is not a fan of in-season negotiations, so there will be no further discussion with Pablo Sandoval’s agents, who have made it clear that the Giants’ offer of three years for forty million dollars, is not going to cut it. Sandoval wants the same type of contract as the one Hunter Pence netted last fall, which was five years at ninety million dollars.
So that’s it for Opening Day; let’s hope that Tim Lincecum can keep the momentum going tomorrow, by keeping the Giants in the game. He did not walk anyone in his first start, and though he gave up the two home runs, his second through sixth inning effort went pretty well. The opening road trip was inspiring; now the Giants need to win at home because the rest of the year will not see as many successful road trips, especially when we start to go across country.
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Workman