Turns out it’s a winning formula that way.
For seven and a half innings on Opening Day, the Giants made you briefly forget about the projections you don’t understand from calculators like ZiPS, Albert Pujols, and Steamer. And it was enough for you to think, “hey, this team can be kind of good.”
And then the rest of the game happened and you pulled out half of your hair, called your friends to ask them which cable packages no longer include NBC Sports Bay Area, and then canceled your cable package and bought that one instead.
Game No. 2 followed the same seven and a half inning model. There was another strong, longer-than-expected outing from a starting pitcher. There were multiple long balls, even from the same people who hit them on Thursday. There were 6 runs on the board, and a healthy lead.
Everything was set up for the Giants to repeat their meltdown, and then … it never came. It never even texted “OMW!”
Wandy Peralta entered with two outs and the bases empty in the sixth, and retired four straight batters. Tyler Rogers gave up but a lone walk in the eighth. Jake McGee was perfect in the ninth, for what figures to be his first of many saves in a Giants uniform.
And suddenly the game was over. No drama. No tension. No excitement.
Just the way I like my baseball.
Buster Posey took on dead center for the Giants first run of the game. It was majestic.
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) April 3, 2021
Posey has said all camp — despite dealing with some lingering health issues — that he feels great physically, and that his surgery prior to the 2019 season, mixed with opting out of the 2020 season, has him fresh and ready to go.
So far he looks the part. He got a surprising Game 2 start after catching extra innings in the opener, and his swing looks strong and balanced.
Two games does not a trend make, but for a player who’s been steadily losing his power, it’s encouraging. Here’s how many games it’s taken Posey to reach the two-homer mark the last few seasons:
We’re going to need to see a lot more before we can make any declarations as to the player that Posey is in 2021, but he’s already at 16.7% of his home run total for 2018 and 2019 combined.
Speaking of home runs, Evan Longoria also hit his second home run of the season, and it was also impressive and beautiful.
He went to opposite field — again — and tied the game in the sixth inning.
Longoria did not have a good 2020 with the bat, but it’s clear the Giants are excited about where he is entering this season. There’s a reason the organization — which has had no problem batting Posey seventh in the order — has started the season with Longoria hitting cleanup, ahead of fellow righties Wilmer Flores and Darin Ruf, who were significantly better hitters than Longoria last year.
Part of the intrigue of this Giants lineup is that there are a lot of players where if you have a martini or two, and squint a little bit, you can envision a path towards them having a high-quality season. Longoria doing exactly that sure would be nice.
The other offensive star was Donovan Solano, who is doing everything he can to prove that his Silver Slugger in 2020 was not a fluke. Solano followed up his two-hit opener with a three-hit night, including the go-ahead double.
If Solano has had an ugly at-bat this season, I can’t remember it. He looks oh so comfortable at the plate right now, as he did for virtually all of 2020.
Johnny Cueto had a rough third inning, wasn’t missing bats, was comfortably over 60 pitches, and looked bound for a rough season debut. And then he found whatever it was that he was looking for, and ended up with a solid line: 5.2 innings, 6 hits, 3 walks, 3 earned runs, 7 strikeouts, and 17 swinging strikes.
It wasn’t the All-Star Cueto that the Giants got in 2016 — that Cueto is likely … uhh … stuck in 2016 — but it was the type of quality effort that allows the Giants to be competitive. They have the offense to support a pitcher who limits the damage.
And that’s the formula for the season. High quality plate appearances, some moderate to severely big bats, good enough starting pitching to let the bats shine, and a passable bullpen.
It didn’t work in Game 1. It worked perfectly in Game 2.