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San Francisco Giants handle D-backs in Season Opener

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On a night when the San Francisco Giants were alarmed early from news of Matt Cain’s forearm tightening up, they came out firing on all cylinders, collected eleven hits in the first five innings in building a 5-1 lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field, and hung on to win the Season Opener, 5-4. Staff ace Madison Bumgarner, named Player of the Game, dominated over seven innings and allowed only one run, before the Giants then allowed the Snakes to make things close in the eighth.

The top of the order combined for eight hits in their first nine combined at-bats, with Pagan and Panik having three each. Pagan added a walk in the ninth.

the top three hitters in the lineup, combined to go 8 for 9 to open up the game.

It was more than manager

Bruce Bochy

could ever have asked for, as

Casey McGehee

also looked good, with two singles and a walk.

Brandon Crawford

had two hits and knocked in two. The only regulars who did not contribute offensively, were

Brandon Belt

and

Gregor Blanco

MadBum went seven complete, giving up one run on six hits, with one walk and three K’s. He had thrown 79 pitches at the end of the sixth inning, which was well ahead of pitching coach Dave Righetti’s fourteen-per-inning rule, and ended up with 93 altogether. He looked as though he were taking up, exactly where he left off late last October.

Mar 10, 2015; Peoria, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Norichika Aoki (23) bats against the San Diego Padres at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants scored first in the third inning with one out off of starter Josh Collmenter, after Madison Bumgarner had grounded out softly to first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt. Nori Aoki then singled and Joe Panik hit one into the right-center field gap that was tracked down by A.J. Pollock.

Pollock rifled a throw into cutoff man Nick Ahmed, who threw behind Aoki to Aaron Hill at third base. With Aoki racing around the bases from first, new third base coach Roberto Kelly had been late in throwing up the stop sign, and Aoki could not pull up in time after Ahmed had made the throw. He was forced to head home where he was easily thrown out, Hill to Tuffy Gosewisch.

Angel Pagan then came through with two outs, and singled Joe Panik home from second base, bailing the Giants out for the first-if not the last-time in 2015. It’s what the Giants are so adept at doing.

Josh Collmenter (9.64 ERA) started for the D-backs and went four-and-two-thirds innings, allowing five runs on ten hits, while walking one and striking out four. Buster Posey came into Monday night’s game eleven for sixteen off of Collmenter, and went 0-2 with a run-scoring sacrifice fly. Angel Pagan was 4 for 9 off of him coming in and went 3-3, making his lifetime average against the Arizona starter, .583.

San Francisco broke the game open in the fifth with a walk, two singles (Aoki, Panik), two doubles (Pagan, Crawford), and a sac fly (Posey), adding up to four runs and a 5-1 lead. The left-handed Brandon Crawford, as he did so consistently last season, hit his double off of the left-handed Andrew Chafin, though he ended up at third when the ball got past Mark Trumbo. He died there when Gregor Blanco attempted to bunt Crawford home from third, but popped the ball up to Gosewisch instead for the third out.

The Diamondbacks were not done, however, loading the bases in the eighth on a chopper off the bat of Ender Inciarte (Javier Lopez pitching), a walk by Jean Machi of Paul Goldschmidt, and a single by Aaron Hill. Sergio Romo came in for Machi, and Jake Lamb, pinch-hitting for Chris Owings, came out hacking and doubled off the wall in deepest center field, clearing the bases. Romo went on to get Gosewisch swinging but he walked pinch-hitter Cliff Pennington, bring Bochy back out to the mound.

Oct 29, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt throws a pitch against the Kansas City Royals in the second inning during game seven of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Out came Jeremy Affeldt, who got David Peralta swinging, but not until after the season’s first Instant Replay, one designed to see whether or not it could be determined if batter Peralta had been struck on the knuckles by a pitched ball. The pitch was declared a ball after the home plate umpire checked with the third base ump to make sure it was not a swing, and the call was left unchanged by the crew in New York. The D-backs stranded two on base with the score, 5-4.

Santiago Casilla, looking porous all spring, came out for the ninth and was just nasty, inducing a popup, a groundout, and finishing matters off by striking out Paul Goldschmidt, swinging. In watching Casilla all spring and wondering when we were going to see the real deal, I got my answer tonight.

San Francisco Giants fans waited all winter long to get the first impression of their staff ace, Madison Bumgarner. Naysayers warned that he would be negatively impacted by his extended workload last October, but every time I see that commercial of him chopping down that tree, I remember where he lives and what he does in the offseason. He looked as chill pitching out there tonight, as he has looked in that commercial.

Coming on the heels of the disturbing news that Cain had undergone an MRI, the results of which will not be known for at least two weeks, the win was more than just an Opening Day victory. It was about Cain and Hunter Pence. No one wants to jump to negative conclusions, but the thought that there is serious damage to The Horse, is frightening indeed.

Mar 4, 2015; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) hits a double during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics during a spring training baseball game at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Nonetheless, the team was able to survive and thrive last season, and have begun in a most encouraging way Monday night. They must maintain the effort through the series and take one game at a time. They did not hit a home run but totaled thirteen hits and a pair of walks, for just enough offense to get the job done.

The bullpen had a rough go of it in the eighth, but regained equilibrium, and closed it out. The win was a team effort and there’s going to be a lot of them. Newcomers Aoki and McGehee combined for four hits and a walk and each scored a run, and MadBum, Affeldt and Casilla were good enough to get it done.

One game at a time, Giants, and you’re doing just fine so far.

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