The frustrating lack of execution plagued the Giants as well; Lance Neikro and Ray Durham, sandwiched around Barry Bonds in the lineup, stranded three runners apiece. Bonds still doesn't look comfortable at the plate, and while he can make the plays in the field, it's painful to watch him lumber about. If Saturday night is any indication, this is a team that is still in the goo phase of the gelling process.
Because nothing can ever be easy for the Giants, Steve Finley's RBI single scoring Durham in the second inning gave the team a lead that wouldn't last. Furcal answered in the third, turning a two-out walk into a run thanks to his speed and a Lofton hit that just kept on bouncing past the reach of Finley in center. Perennial pain Jeff Kent lead the way on a double steal in the fourth inning and manufactured another run, coming home on catcher Dioner Navarro's groundout. Jose Cruz, Jr. was on the back end of that double steal, biting the hand that once fed him. It's become a trend for former Giants to hurt the current club.
Odalis Perez chose the fourth inning to settle down. He followed three innings of sloppy pitching with four innings of solid ball where he allowed only one base runner, a fifth inning walk to Randy Winn. Luck was on Perez's side when Vizquel smashed a liner right to him, and he managed to double off Winn at first to end the inning, and the threat. He recorded only two strikeouts in those four innings, instead saving his energy to let the Giants put themselves out with ground balls and fly outs.
Right-hander Scott Munter pitched the eighth for the Giants, and he did not look like the pitcher who came out of nowhere last season, raising eyebrows and throwing bowling ball sinkers. He struggled through his inning as Schmidt did, still only allowing one run after a flurry of walks and base runners. It took the Dodgers a base hit, a sacrifice bunt, and a fielder's choice to get Kent to third, and it was Navarro again who delivered with the RBI. Winn's brilliant play to throw Mueller out at home ended the inning and kept this one within striking distance, but with the way the Giants have been hitting, the effort was essentially wasted.
Like the pitcher before them, the Dodgers' relievers du jour made things interesting before ending San Francisco's hopes. Winn doubled off Saito Takashi in the 8th but was left stranded at third, and interim closer Danys Baez repeated Saito's actions when Bonds came up in the ninth. Bonds lined a ball to the left field corner, and as he limped to second under an airmailed throw, it did not look nor feel like a good hit. Jason Ellison entered the game as a pinch runner for Bonds and advanced to third on a groundout. However, he too was left at third, to end the game this time, and thus the Dodgers stand split with the Giants on this, the first series of their season.
Los Angeles right-hander Jae Seo opposes an unknown starter for the Giants in the deciding game, broadcast nationally on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball at 5pm Pacific time. Speculation says Brad Hennessey will start for the Giants, while some news sources have Kevin Correia penciled in. It may be a surprise until the lineups are announced; you'll just have to wait and see.
SFDugout.com Player of the Game: Steve Kline relieved Schmidt for the eighth inning, as the only San Francisco pitcher to retire all three batters he faced. He came right at the two problematic hitters at the top of the Dodger order, with many thanks owed Finley for his sliding catch on a tricky pop-up to center field. It's early but Kline looks good to be the new goofy left-hander in the bullpen.
Notes: April 15 also stands out: Giants pitcher Rubén Gómez won baseball's first regular season game on the West Coast in 1958. He started the first game in San Francisco history, beating Don Drysdale and the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers in an 8-0 shutout at Seals Stadium…four former Giants suited up for the Dodgers Saturday night. Maybe Dodger general manager and former Giants executive Ned Colletti wants to collect them all… more Robinson trivia: since his number 42 was retired in 1997 there is only one active player to wear the number, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.
Chris has been a Giants fan since her days in utero. She loves baseball and writes about whatever she can get her hands on…even the Athletics. She's a Bay Area gal through and through. This is her 23rd season of fandom and first where she's had the honor to write for the Giants on SFDugout.com. Love/hate mail can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, where the love mail gets top priority and the hate mail gets used for kindling.
The views expressed in the columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the site's publisher, writers, or other staff members. The content on this site may not be redistributed without the expressed consent of SFDugout.com.