San Francisco Giants Survive First Big Test
The San Francisco Giants head into a home series with the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 4-4 record and a terrific start to the season.
Terrific might seem like a generous word to use, considering they have already lost three one run games and were shut out twice in just eight games.
On the other hand, they began the year winning back to back games 1-0, something that had only happened once before in Major League history, and never on the road. On top of that, those games were against the defending National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
Despite only eight game, six have been against the Dodgers, with only a two game series against the Seattle Mariners in between.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles is off to their worst start in over forty years.
Considering the amount of games they have already had to play against one of the best in baseball, their start to 2018 is already an impressive accomplishment.
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The Giants were dealt with a painful blow right before the season began, finding out they would be without their ace Madison Bumgarner for several months. On top of that, the team has been without starter Jeff Samardzija and closer Mark Melancon as well. With left handed relief pitcher Will Smith also out while continue to recover from last year’s Tommy John surgery, it is remarkable that the Giants are 4-4.
The other factor that makes this start impressive is that it is the pitching that is carrying them. Johnny Cueto, in two starts, has reestablished himself among the best in the game. His first start was nearly perfect and his second was good enough for a 0.69 ERA on the season.
Ty Blach, who started Opening Day against the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw, has battled toe to toe with one of the best in the game and matched him in both outings. Chris Stratton has also been impressive in his early starts.
The bullpen has been tremendous as well. While newcomer Tony Watson is not a total surprise given his track record, several pitchers are shining that were unexpected.
When the Giants outlasted the Dodgers in a 14th inning marathon, it was rookies Pierce Johnson and Reyes Moronta who each pitched two scoreless innings of relief to keep the game going. A third rookie, Roberto Gomez, who allowed a run in the top of the 14th, pitched his way out of trouble to only allow a single run. That allowed Andrew McCutchen to walk it off with a three run home run in the bottom of the 14th.
McCutchen, one of the prized acquisitions of the off-season, broke out that night with a career record six hits and that spectacular walk off. He had been in a dreadful slump to begin the year, which is never fun for a player on a new team.
Evan Longoria, who was also acquired this off-season, has struggled at the plate as well, but seems to be slowly but surely hitting his way out of his slump.
McCutchen and Longoria have been a sure thing in the field and the upgrades have significantly helped the Giants stay in these close games.
As their two big bats begin to break out and they start to get their pitchers healthy, the Giants will look back at this 4-4 start as a huge reason they are able to stay in contention while they wait for Bumgarner to return.
Next: Giants Ups and Downs Opening Week
Playing .500 ball is the goal while they wait, but to actually do it after their struggles last season says a lot about the current 25 man roster and the early success they have already had.