By Ben Leonard
There’s nothing like Opening Day. Rejuvenated players, high expectations, optimism, and in the Giants’ case….the flu and snow. Not usually a good combination, unless you like getting pneumonia.
Debilitated by the flu, Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner was forced to battle through a blizzard, wind howling and snow pelting, fighting to lead the Giants to a 12-3 win over the Brewers on Opening Day.
Well sure, it was only snowing outside the dome, but Bumgarner’s effort was valiant nonetheless, battling through that illness for five innings, just enough to pick up the win, giving up three runs in the process. He probably shouldn’t have stayed in that long — he was struggling to command the ball and worked up a high pitch count early.
The flu, or the early season jitters, or rustiness, or whatever you want to call it, left him in a mechanical funk in the first few innings, in which he set a plethora of low water marks. He walked the bases loaded in the first and then gave up only the second bases-loaded walk of his career, and then in the second, gave up a homer to Scooter Gennett, who had never hit a homer against a lefty before. Ever. This wasn’t just some early season stat shenanigans.
Another solo shot to Jonathan Villar later, Bumgarner found himself with three runs on the ledger after just 2+ innings. Then something clicked. Over Bumgarner’s final three innings on the bump, he gave up just two hits, and struck out the side in the fifth to end his outing and earn some much-needed rest. Overall, ten baserunners in five innings isn’t exactly ideal from your ace to open the season, but given the circumstances, it wasn’t terrible.
Especially when he had the Giants’ killer lineup behind him. After lighting up the Cactus League, the Giants picked up right where they left off, putting together a 15-hit effort to bail out Bumgarner.
New addition Denard Span looked perfectly comfortable on his new team, going 2 for 4 and leading the team with five RBI’s, three of which came on a deep shot to right field to start off a string of back-to-back-to-back homers for the Giants. Joe Panik followed Span’s lead with another solo shot to right, and on the next pitch, Buster Posey launched a homer to deep center field. This string helped Brewers’ reliever Ariel Pena make the history books for the first time, becoming the first reliever to ever give up three home runs on Opening Day.
Every regular had a hit for the Giants — it was just one of those days. Matt Duffy had a big day of his own, going 2 for 5 with four RBI’s, including the first two of the Giants’ season on a line drive single in the second, plating Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt.
Four Giants’ relievers combined to give up just three hits over the final four innings to slam the door for the Giants, with Josh Osich earning an impressive nine-run save.
Cover Image: By Eltiempo10 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons