The Giants had their first test of 2019, and their performance may be an indicator of how the rest of the season will unfold.
Opening in San Diego, the G Men faced a Padres team that has been slowly building itself up toward relevance over the past few years. After making one of the biggest splashes in free agency, signing 3B Manny Machado to a then-record $300 million contract over 10 years, the Friars solidified their stake as a force in the NL West.
Madison Bumgarner took the hill for Bruce Bochy's final Opening Day game (Bochy announced his intention to retire at the end of the '19 season back in February). There had been some speculation, coming into this season, as to what level of ability Bumgarner would bring to the table — especially after coming off of two consecutive injury-shortened years. Those questions about Mad Bum's abilities were emphatically answered, as he dominated the Padres lineup through seven innings.
Striking out a total of nine, Bumgarner victimized the superstar Machado on two occasions, while surrendering two earned runs, on five hits and one walk, over his seven innings of quality work. On a side note, the Bumgarner — a more than capable hitter — collected a hit in his two plate appearances.
The Giants, as advertised, played solid defense behind their big lefty, as well as during reliever Nick Vincent's scoreless eigth inning. However, as also advertised, the San Francisco bats were virtually non-existent. Here is what Bruce Bochy's starting lineup looked like, with each player's Opening Day stat line:
- Steven Duggar (CF) 0-4, 1 K
- Brandon Belt (1B) 0-4, 2 K
- Evan Longoria (3B) 2-4
- Buster Posey (C) 1-4, 1 K
- Brandon Crawford (SS) 1-3
- Connor Joe (LF) 0-1, 1 BB
- Michael Reed (RF) 0-2, 1 K
- Joe Panik (2B) 0-3
- Madison Bumgarner (SP) 1-2
Several of the Giants' hitters had very strong Spring Training showings, which suggests that they are in rhythm and just need to "get it going" in the regular season. So, there is no need to panic... just yet. What's particularly encouraging, though, is that the Giants brought their strong defense and paired it with a dominant outing by their ace, which is going to be their recipe for success throughout the season. The bottom line is the Giants will not be able to compete if their pitching and defense doesn't show up. The offense will show up sparingly; that's just the nature of the beast.
It looks like Giants baseball is "torture" once again.