Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Giants see your Kershaw and raise you a Bumgarner

If there was any possible way for the Giants to counter Clayton Keshaw's terrific opening day, it was accomplished by Madison Bumgarner.

As he's done his entire brief career, the Dodgers had no answers for Bumgarner, getting only two hits in eight innings.  A bad error by Justin Sellers at short in the seventh broke the game open as the Giants rolled to an easy win, 3-0.  Both teams have split the first couple of games of the 2013 season.

The Dodgers trotted out Korean sensation Hyun-Jin Ryu in what was almost an impossible task of following up on Kershaw's Opening Day start.  Sure enough, both Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro singled to open the game.  After Pablo Sandoval flew out, Buster Posey grounded into a double play, which turned out to be one of four the Giants hit into in this one.

With the Dodgers only getting a double from Andre Ethier in the second, the Giants were first on the board in the fourth.  Posey and Hunter Pence each singled with one down to put runners on the corners.  Joaquin Arias's RBI single to center made it 1-0.

It was still anybody's game for awhile, which was pretty amazing considering the Giants had nine hits going into the seventh, but only that one run to show for it.  The Dodgers, on the other hand, didn't have much of a clue against Bumgarner, who mowed through these guys without breaking a sweat.

The seventh is when the Giants scored a couple thanks in large part to the defensive efforts of Sellers.  Arias reached on a bad throw from Sellers to start the inning, which was a sign of things to come.  With one out and runners on second and third, Ronald Belisario relieved and got Bumgarner to bounce one up the middle to Sellers.  Rather than conceding the run and taking the out, Sellers threw wide of home and to the backstop, allowing both runs to score to make it 3-0.

Sergio Romo picked up the save, getting Mark Ellis looking to end it.

To say that Sellers picked a bad time to commit two errors in one inning is quite the understatement.  He's already a surprising choice to replace Hanley Ramirez at short, and controversial one at that.  We already knew he can't hit, but he was supposed to have a sharp glove.  Well, that was thrown out the window in a matter of one inning.  Ouch.

That's not to say that Sellers is all of a sudden a poor fielder, but games like this will only shorten his leash.  He's already hitless in six at-bats this season, lowering his career average to .197, so it's not like he has his great numbers at the plate to fall back on.  It's easy to overreact after one game, but with other options like Nick Punto and Jerry Hairston to fill in, maybe it's time to give them some starts.

Ryu certainly didn't have his best stuff, and was the definition of a pitcher who "scuffled."  He lasted 6 1/3 innings for 10 hits, 3 runs (1 earned), no walks, and 5 strikeouts.  That's a lot of men he let on base, as the Giants didn't seemed fooled by him.  His defense (pre-Sellers in the seventh) definitely had his back with the three DP's turned.

I found three cases of silver linings for Ryu, however.  One, he didn't walk anyone.  Two, all 10 hits were singles, as the Giants dinked and dunked their way all night.  Three, he found ways to make big pitches when he needed to and kept his team well within striking distance.  He knows there's plenty to improve upon, but he'll get there eventually. 

It's safe to say the offense has started the season in a slump.  It's obviously a small sample size, but when your leading hitter is Kershaw, that's probably not good.  Matt Kemp is looking for his first hit, though he did swing pretty well in this game.  Luis Cruz is trying to kill the ball each swing and already has way too many popups.  He needs to relax and just hit, and not try to become the next LA home run king.  It ain't gonna happen.

Josh Beckett will take the hill on Wednesday looking to give the Dodgers their first series win.  The Giants counter with Tim Lincecum, who was once on Kershaw's level, but had a horrific 2013 season.  To his credit, his 2.55 ERA out of the bullpen last postseason showed he can possibly still get it done, but even with that, he has plenty to prove if he's ever going to regain his old form.

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