SAN FRANCISCO - On a day when even a Royals fan believes that anything is possible, the Giants managed to fall into almost every low expectation given to them this off-season. Zito pitched like a number two, Bonds showed warning track power, the bullpen got lit up for four runs and Feliz, with his new short stride, still struck out. But hey, this was just one game...right?
Barry Zito had a welcome to the National League moment in the 6th inning of last night's game, getting pulled to allow Lance Niekro to hit down 3 runs with a man on. While his line stats do not reflect that bad of an outing, 5 innings, 4 hits, 2 ER, it certainly was not a great one, which is precisely what the ballclub will need from their starting pitching this season.
Is it unfair to place the future of this ballclub on their starting five? Absolutely. But with a weaker offense and a hittable bullpen, you better believe this club will only go as far as Zito and Co. take them.
Behind the mound, the other Barry actually showed good range for an outfielder. Even on a bum leg last year, his gold glove instincts could get him to the ball quickly. Feeling healthier (and happier according to Mike Krukow), it will be interesting to see how quickly he attacks the record.
The supporting cast looked average as usual. Durham struggled to get comfortable in the box along with Winn and Roberts. In the meantime, armed with his "strideless" swing, Feliz continued to swing at balls in the dirt. After committing what would be a run allowing error in the 4th, you can see why the media has gotten used to saying religiously, "excluding Vizquel, the Giants defense is mediocre at best". And yes, Durham made two great plays, but let's not confuse him with Ryne Sandberg out there.
This year is simply all about starting pitching. The young man pitching tonight is quite simply the most exciting player on this ballclub for the potential of what he could be. With the right approach, this is one Giants fan who believes Matt Cain can be one of the top five pitchers in baseball.
So all-in-all Opening Day, even if it went badly, signaled the beginning of a new season and a new chance. The beauty of baseball is that it's a long season, so anything can happen. So the offense was shutdown, the defense had holes and the starting pitching only decent. You can always say, it was just one game...