After playing like nincompoops for the entire spring, the Giants showed up on Opening Day and hit the ball when they needed to. They caught the ball when they needed to. Their best pitcher threw the ball well, and they won the game. If they go 99-62 over their next 161 games, they'll win 100. That doesn't seem so hard! Other than some shaky middle relief, this team looked pretty good. So rest that arm, Madison, because tomorrow's game will be here before we know it.
Unless the Giants are actually planning on starting someone different on Tuesday. Which ... they wouldn't, would they?
Welcome to your 2015 Giants. They look like a pretty good team when they're riding Madison Bumgarner like a bunch of filthy ticks, but when he's not in the game, it's mayhem and anarchy. I guess that's the 2014 Giants, too, and that worked out okay. For at least one game out of every five, a five-run barrage of singles and doubles should be more than enough. It should allow the bullpen some room to shake the awfuls out without ruining the entire game. For at least one game out of every five, the Giants should be a team that makes you say, "Oh, sure, this team can totally win a championship."
It's the other four games out of every five that I'm worried about. And you know what will make those games even more nerve-wracking? If the Giants lose the Bumgarner game that precedes them. Everyone stresses out about Opening Day losses, including me, but while the rotation doesn't exactly get bleak after Bumgarner, it gets significantly less Bumgarner. This is why I was secretly in favor of pitching him second in the rotation, so he wouldn't have to match up with the aces of every other team. Like Josh Collmenter.
Regardless, Bumgarner was solid, if not outstanding. He hit Buster Posey's mitt often, and when he didn't, the Diamondbacks didn't really know what to do with it. The velocity was as good as hoped, the command was familiar, and it turns out that Madison Bumgarner is exceptional at throwing baseballs.
Giants baseball: it's ... well, it's not really torture yet. It's someone humming "It's a Small World" in the back of the train. It'll get to torture, probably, but give it some time. Right now, it's just delightfully stressful. Missed you, baseball.
Before we unfurl the scroll of nervous worries, let us celebrate the top of the batting order. First, are there any new Norichika Aoki pictures?
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Right, good. Still has a little spring rust on it, but that's a fine photographic start. Aoki got his first hit as a Giant, and it looked exactly like we all imagined: He roped a low fastball up the middle for the kind of single that's going to define this team for better and for worse. There were no adventures in the outfield, and his speed would have been an asset if not for a late stop sign from Not Tim Flannery. But that's on the scroll of worries. We'll unfurl that later, I said.
Joe Panik doubles always make you think that he can sprinkle 40 of them into a single season. They look so effortless and natural when they come, like he could hit 15 in a game if he could just get enough at-bats. Of course, he's not going to sniff 40 in a season, and there will be long intermissions in the middle of doubles theatre this season, but they sure look pretty when he's hitting them into the gap.
And, of course, Angel Pagan is probably the key to the season, considering how easy it is to write him off because of his back. He made nifty plays in the outfield ...
... and he drove the ball with extra my-back-is-fine authority, which I wasn't expecting until May, at least.
The top of the order gets the gold star, then. What if Angel Pagan can actually perform like a reasonable facsimile of a #3 hitter? This team could be going places, he mumbled while thoughtfully stroking his beard.
Now to the scroll of nervous worries, in which we find that Roberto Kelly might be a little rough around the edges.
Yeeps. It was Kelly's first real chance to make an important decision, and it reminded me of this:
Sample size only one game it's a marathon not a sprint can't win 'em all he'll probably be fine and so forth. But there's a reason why Tim Flannery's name rarely came up in this post-game doodads. A third-base coach you never notice is one of nature's most glorious creatures.
Jean Machi was a mess, and Sergio Romo looked like a pitcher whose straight two-seamer would keep him from getting drafted.
Jeremy Affeldt was a hero again, and Santiago Casilla was a calming wind of lavender and quiet outs.
Take comfort in the latter, and ignore the former until it comes up again. But we're watching you, sketchy bullpen folk. We're watching you.
To Lon - and a life expertly lived. And to Opening day! So excited for baseball to be back (and for games that count) pic.twitter.com/oMfXYF48K5— Dave Flemming (@FlemmingDave) April 6, 2015