Opening Day is kryptonite for it's-a-long-season platitudes. The same goes with home openers. There's bunting around the perimeter. There are jets. There's someone you've probably heard of singing the National Anthem. And you don't want to hear "This is fine. It's a long season. This is fine" after a crushing loss.
For four long, tedious innings, it was all we had. Jake Peavy didn't have his location, and he hasn't had the stuff to live without location for years. The Dodgers were getting baseballs over the plate, and they weren't missing them. The Giants were getting squirpy-jerky baseballs from Alex Wood, and they were missing them violently. It was like Wood was throwing the ball with his toes from behind the plate. Couldn't pick it up.
We've seen this. We've read the novelization of this movie, and we cribbed the SparkNotes, just to be sure. This is the 17th season of AT&T Park. A feckless offensive performance is an awful roommate that we want to punch, but can't.
Not only that, but everything before this game was about the Dodgers not allowing a run to start the season. The Dodgers didn't allow a run to start the season. The Dodgers didn't allow a run to start the season. The Dodgers didn't allow a run to start the season. Did you hear about the Dodgers not allowing a run to start the season? They were two away from the record. It was all we heard, and it wasn't even the Giants' fault. Leave it to the Padres to annoy the Giants from beyond a series' grave.
And then the Giants scored an awful lot of runs. If you were smitten with the Giants scoring 12 runs on Opening Day against a bad Brewers team in a hitter's park, you'll love the Giants scoring 12 runs in the home opener against a good Dodgers team on a record-setting pace in a pitcher's park. Do you like factlets? We have factlets:
The 2009 Giants scored 12 runs in a game. It was a good game! I remember it well. The 2016 Giants have scored 12 runs in a game twice already.
The 2003 Giants were one of the best teams in franchise history. They won 100 games and led wire-to-wire. Barry Bonds hit .341/.529/.749 that season with 45 homers. They scored 12 runs twice all season. The 2016 Giants have scored 12 runs in a game twice already.
Certainly, some of this has to do with small-sample chicanery, and floaters to left fortuitously mixed in with the singles to right, don't get me wrong. But that 2003 team is kind of instructive, here. They had Barry F. Bonds, yes, and he was a demigod, but the team finished with an adjusted OPS of 99, even with Bonds. There were dead spots in the lineup, and it's why the 100 wins was probably a touch lucky according to Pythagorean record. The Giants started with a nuclear Bonds and a Cy-worthy Jason Schmidt, and they were still probably a 93-win team according to their true talent level.
Not saying this team is better, but you can see the appeal of a lineup without dead spots. Angel Pagan hit an empty .300 for the first two months last year, but you can't argue that he looks better this season. And if Pagan is rolling -- or merely capable -- what a carousel of fun this could be.
If there's health. If there aren't any lingering slumps that spawn a thousand what's-wrong-with columns. If. If. If. Your even-year armor is completely invented, and the adults watching think it's cute that you're pretending to believe in it. This game means exactly the same as all the others: .6 percent of a long baseball season.
But if you're required to suspend your it's-a-long-season platitudes in the event of a brutal loss, you get to ride them to the moon in the event of a fun win.
And that was a fun win.
The Giants beat the Dodgers in the home opener, 12-6. There was a comeback and a grand slam. Copy it and paste those sentences into a text or an email or a personal reminder to yourself, and spread some cheer in this world.
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Especially if you know a Dodgers fan. They could use some cheer.
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Apparently, the secret word of the day was "bunt." If you're a youngster, or a stats geek, or some sort of neo-Moneyball reactionary, you're probably not a fan of the bunt. For the most part, I agree. For the most part, Bruce Bochy agrees. Bunting a runner from first to second with no outs just doesn't check out, mathematically. It's kills the big rallies, and it doesn't have to start the small rallies.
But those are the silly, knee-jerk bunts. Around these parts, we're huge, huge fans of bunts with a purpose. Think Gregor Blanco in the 2012 World Series -- bunts that have a purpose beyond passing the buck to the hitter behind you. This game was silly with them.
With the Giants down, 4-0, Brandon Crawford took a walk. Mind you, Crawford looked absolutely abysmal in his first plate appearance. Like he had never seen a left-handed pitcher before, and he wanted to appeal the umpires that the demon-armed pitcher was doing something illegal. He worked a glorious walk to bring up Kelby Tomlinson, pinch-hitting for Jake Peavy.
Tomlinson wasn't trying to bunt Crawford over. He wasn't trying to break the streak. He wanted a single. He figured the Dodgers would be sleeping, and he wanted a free base runner. Imagine waiting all winter to hit in a game, finally getting a pinch-hit appearance in the fourth game of the season, and deciding you aren't going to swing. I love the decision so much, even if it didn't work out. I'd wager the bunt had at least a 33-percent chance of working out if Tomlinson saw a relaxed defense, and I'll take a .333/.333/.333-hitting Tomlinson in that situation every time.
The next bunt was from Ehire Adrianza. I'm not sure why Chris Heston couldn't have put it down with a short bench, but Adrianza laid one down that put a Dodgers' pitcher on his butt. Bonus points! With a single, the Giants could take the lead.
The Paganaissance continued, and the Giants took the lead.
Denard Span put down one of the garden variety sacrifices we complain about, usually, but it worked this time, but he still almost beat it out, too. It still led to two runs.
Still, the Tomlinson bunt was one of my favorite 2016 moments so far. Belt bunting for singles is a favorite thing of the 2016 season, and hopefully it will continue. The successful execution of a sneak-attack bunt from an unassuming batter with a four-run deficit is tops for now, though.
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Joe Panik is hitting .353 so far this season. That seems low.
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Here's Hunter Pence hitting a grand slam against the Dodgers in the home opener
I was told that Jon Miller's call was divine, so I'm looking forward to it. I'm assuming it went "BAEZ, BAEZ, BABY!"
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In the second inning, the Giants got an inning-ending double play that was overturned because Joe Panik was off the base. The neighborhood play wasn't reviewable until this year. It was reviewable this year because Chase Utley is a leg-breaking ghoul, so MLB had to change some rules around. Getting rid of the neighborhood play felt like an appeal to the sensibilities of ... well, I don't know. But it felt like a concession in a dumb negotiation that existed entirely in one person's mind.
Then Chase Utley came up with two runners in scoring position and a chance to blow the game open.
In 2011, 2013, and 2015, he hits a baseball that bounces off a container ship.
In 2016, he strikes out looking on a borderline pitch.
Please be true, even-year mythology.
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Alex Wood wasn't supposed to start the season in the rotation. It took an injury to Brett Anderson, followed by continued health concerns for Hyun-jin Ryu, to get him a secured start. Whatever, fine. Wood is generally excellent, and his velocity was up, up, up this spring.
Still, the fact that he wasn't in the rotation, and that the Dodgers signed two free-agent starters this offseason, suggests the team was a little wary of him. That's the background.
In the fifth inning, Wood looked spent. He walked Crawford, who looked like a confused cricket player in his previous at-bat, which was foreshadowing. He was leaving balls up, and he wasn't finishing hitters off. The Giants ended the inning leading by a run.
In the next half-inning, Wood took his at-bat. Nothing to see here! Just a starting pitcher taking his at-bat. A pitcher the Dodgers were already side-eying in the offseason, a pitcher who looked dreadful in the previous half-inning, and with a bullpen that hasn't been worked hard at all in the first week.
The Giants came up again, and Wood allowed two singles, one well struck, one not so much. That was it for Wood! If his leash was two singles, why was he hitting in the top-half of the inning? It probably didn't cost the game, but the Giants sure did a lot with two outs on Thursday.
Which is all to say, "Welcome, Dave Roberts!" I thought I told you to get rid of those sideburns.