Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Giants go batty to back Bumgarner in opener

Madison Bumgarner was under the weather, but the rest of the Giants appeared healthy, strong and right on schedule.
Denard Span and Matt Duffy each homered and combined for nine RBIs as the Giants overcame Bumgarner's shaky start for a 12-3 win Monday over the Brewers on Opening Day at Miller Park. Having won the World Series in each of the past three even-numbered years, the 2016 season was off to an auspicious start for San Francisco.
Bumgarner walked home a run in the first inning and surrendered solo home runs to Brewers infielders Scooter Gennett in the second and Jonathan Villar in the third.
"Sometimes, days like today are more rewarding than when you go out there with your best stuff," said Bumgarner, who began feeling weakened by chills and a fever Saturday night.
But Bumgarner limited Milwaukee to those three runs over five hard-fought innings and won, thanks to a Giants offense that pestered Brewers starter Wily Peralta for five runs (four earned) on six hits in four innings.
"We had a lot of traffic the first four or five innings. It just didn't play," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We were kind of one at-bat away from that big inning to put some stress on [Bumgarner]. He worked out of them."
Duffy hit a two-run home run to spoil Carlos Torres' Brewers debut in the fifth inning, and Span smacked a three-run homer to spark back-to-back-to-back home runs off Ariel Pena in the eighth.
Back, back, back ... Span's home run extended the Giants' lead to 10-3 and gave the outfielder five RBIs, the most for a Giant on Opening Day since Barry Bonds drove in five runs against the Dodgers in 2002. Joe Panik and Buster Posey followed with solo shots, making Pena the first reliever in Major League history to surrender three home runs on Opening Day.
The Giants believe their offense has the potential to be a mighty one this season.
"It's just that -- potential," Duffy said. "But we understand that we can hit, top to bottom."
Lefty on lefty: Gennett entered the day with no home runs and one walk in 119 career plate appearances against left-handers. Against Bumgarner, he homered leading off the second inning and walked leading off the fourth, continuing a strong spring in which Gennett batted .429 and slugged four home runs, including two against southpaws. He badly wants to shed platoon status and become an everyday member of Milwaukee's lineup.
"Personally, having a couple of hits and a walk, I did pretty good," Gennett said. "But when it comes to the team and winning, I didn't contribute enough, because we lost, and we lost pretty bad."
Timely toss: Giants left fielder Angel Pagan's fourth-inning throw home wasn't pretty -- it took four hops before reaching Posey -- but it was strong enough to apprehend Gennett at home plate for the out that ended the fourth inning and halted Milwaukee's momentum. Before that, the Brewers had scored in every inning.
Rude welcome: The last player added to Milwaukee's Opening Day roster was the first to emerge from the Brewers' bullpen, and Torres was given a rude welcome by Duffy. After retiring the first two Giants batters of the fifth inning in a 5-3 game, Torres walked Brandon Belt and surrendered a two-run homer to Duffy that extended San Francisco's lead to a more comfortable 7-3.
"Carlos is going to have to be part of it. We've got seven guys down there, and they all have to be part of it," Counsell said. "When you go into your bullpen in the fifth, you know a lot of guys are going to have to pitch. He's going to have to be a guy for us."
"You can't get caught up in all that stuff. If you do, it's kind of depressing and all that. Play hard, do what you do, and we'll win. We're going to win some games. We're not going to go 0-162." -- Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, on outsiders' low expectations
Monday marked the first time in Major League history that both managers batted the pitcher eighth on Opening Day. But it wasn't a first for the Brewers; Ben Sheets went 0-for-2 as the eight-hole hitter ahead of catcher Jason Kendall on 2008 Opening Day against the Cubs, an extra-inning Brewers win.
The Giants had not hit three consecutive home runs in a game since July 20, 2006 (Barry Bonds, Ray Durham and Pedro Feliz versus San Diego). Before Monday, the last team to hit three consecutive home runs on Opening Day was the 1997 Padres (against the Mets).
The Giants' four home runs were one shy of an Opening Day franchise record set April 14, 1964 -- coincidentally, also against a Major League team from Milwaukee. Willie Mays homered twice off Warren Spahn that day as the Giants backed Juan Marichal with five home runs in an 8-4 win over the Milwaukee Braves.
Giants: Having won nine of their last 10 games against Milwaukee, the Giants will aim to maintain this pace as the series continues Tuesday at 5:10 p.m. PT. Right-hander Johnny Cueto will make his regular-season debut for the Giants.
Brewers: The Brewers' 2015 leader in starts (30), wins (11), innings (177 1/3) and strikeouts (148), Jimmy Nelson will begin his second full season with a Tuesday night start against the Giants at Miller Park. Nelson's first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT.

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