Apr. 7, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants third basemen Pablo Sandoval (48) hits a two run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fourth inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE
There aren't a lot of absolutes from the first two games of the season. You can't declare x to be true and y to be false because of 18 innings of baseball. Imagine if someone wrote this after the first two games last year:
Huff was 0-for-7 over his first two games, and Miguel Tejada was 1-for-7. I'm a little worried about those two, to be honest. If they don't have good seasons, the Giants' offense might be in trouble.
Looks ridiculous in retrospect, right? Well, maybe that was a bad example, but the overall point still stands. If you pretend to make too much of the first game, week, or month, you have a great chance to look silly later. The Giants lost their first two games of the season last year, and by the trade deadline they had an insurmountable lead and Carlos Beltran. I don't need to remind you how sweet that second parade was. Also, I was drinking for most of August and September, so I might be misremembering things. Still haven't found my keys. But losing the first two games didn't prevent the Giants from contending.
The Giants are 0-2 for the second straight year. It happens. They're an eight-game winning streak from winning eight of their last ten, and that probably reads more sarcastic than I'm intending it. The Giants can do all sorts of things in the next week or two to make us forget these first two games.
But even though I know that there aren't any absolutes to take from the first two games, they both put two scary thoughts into my head:
1. What if the Giants have the same wait-for-Pablo-to-do-something offense that they did in 2009 and 2011?
I've been sort of expecting this scary thought since, oh, 2009. I was surprised that one year! That was awesome. But even though this is a scary thought, that doesn't mean it's a new one. It's amusing how a pair of four-run games make us feel okay about the offense.
2. What if the Giants' starting pitching isn't magic?
It's been two straight years of magic run prevention. We're spoiled. Tim Lincecum is going to be awesome because we know he will be. Madison Bumgarner is going to be awesome because we know he will be. What this blog post presupposes is … maybe they won't?
Not really, of course. That'd be quite silly. We're two games in. No grand proclamations to be made, and all that. But games like the last two let you slip into a fugue-state where you can at least imagine a Giants team without strong starting pitching. It's almost like we've made our peace with the #1 up there. A noisy, noisy peace. But #2 … that's not even worth thinking about. You shake your head in a vaudevillian sense to get the thoughts out of your head, and they're gone. But it's sure not fun to think about, even for those few seconds.
Not meaningful. But annoying!
Brandon Crawford's defense is that good. He didn't do anything extraordinary today, but it's the little things that we know not to take for granted in the post-Tejada era, like the strong, accurate, underhand bullet to start a double play, or the agile dash to get a force out at second. Still thinking he isn't going to hit a lick, but it's nice to watch him play defense.
I loved that Aubrey Huff double down the line. Not because it was some sign of life from Huff's batt -- it was just a bloop -- but because it was fun to watch Jason Kubel chug-a-lug after it. If you think the Belt/Huff nonsense from last year was bad, imagine Belt getting playing time last year, winning the Gold Glove, and hitting .292 with a .357 on-base percentage as a 24-year-old. Then imagine the Giants signing Huff to a two-year contract. The Kubel signing might be the most amazing personnel move I can remember. It's like the Braves signing Lyle Overbay this offseason. "Sorry, Freddie! Nice year, and everything, but Lyle Overbay!
I'm really rooting for Brett Pill to make some sort of career out of a pinch-hitting, fastball-jumping, quasi-utility player. I don't know if a look-fastball/swing-hard approach is going to work every time in the late innings, but sure looked great today. I took the comments from Bochy that "Pill was going to start against lefties" to mean that when Pill started, he would start against lefties -- not that he was going to start against all lefties. Maybe that's me just being a moron, but I'll hold the optimistic thought. In the meantime, here's hoping that Pill does well in that bench role for which he seems eminently qualified.
I even found a pretty good career comp for him here, complete with the appropriate caveats about what would happen to him if he were thrust into a starting role. I keep trying to poke holes in the comparison, but I just end up convincing myself more.