Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the San Francisco Giants' First Week of the Season

It has not been the most ideal start to the 2011 baseball season for the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, but it could be worse.

A 2-4 start has some freaking out and others, like sane people, just calling it a bit of a World Series hangover, which it is.

The Giants have targets on their backs now that they have rings on their fingers (or will have rings on their fingers on Saturday). They will be taking everyone's best shot from here forward.

Call it a slump, a World Series hangover or whatever, but I'm going to call it like it should be called: a roadtrip.

It doesn't matter how rude the scheduling committee was in sending the World Series Champions on road against division rivals for the first week. Defending World Champions should be playing at home to start the season.......against the Pirates....... just saying. It's common courtesy.

But now they're back home in San Francisco where they are comfortable and brought the city its first World Series championship.

That does not erase what happened this past week, though. There were good parts, bad parts and the ugliest of parts to this opening week of baseball for the defending champs.

The Good

There was patches of good in this first week of baseball for the Giants. The 2-4 record gives that away.

The good thing was the players who were supposed to perform did so.

Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain stand at the forefront of "the good."

Cain was spectacular in his 2011 debut, going six innings of five-hit ball in a 10-0 route of the Dodgers. He was the Giants' only pitcher with a win until Lincecum's gem on Wednesday.

Lincecum, the only Giant with two starts in 2011, has picked up where he left off 2010.

His first start in Los Angeles came in a loss, but he still went seven innings and only gave up five hits, while striking out five and not giving up an earned run.

He topped that on Wednesday in San Diego when he pitched another seven innings, this time only surrendering three hits and striking out 13.

But we expected that from those two.

We also exprected it from Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey, who have been a majority of the Giants runs so far this season.

Huff is batting .292 and leads the team in RBI's with seven.

Posey is batting .320 with five RBI's and is tied for the team lead in hits with eight.

But there's four players who have been mighty fine surprises for the Giants so far.

The comeback story that is Pablo Sandoval put on a show in his first week of weightless baseball batting .400, and has been a consistent force in that lineup with eight hits.

Freddy Sanchez has been consistent, as well, hitting .364.

But how about that one game? Remember that one?

It was just one game, and it could have been a sign of the world ending or something, but Aaron Rowand and Mark DeRosa played well in their only opportunities.

Rowand is 4 for 7 now in 2010, and DeRosa is 2 for 6. I say pencil them into the lineup, right?

The Bad

There is plenty bad to say about a 2-4 start to the season from the defending World Series champs, but I will keep it brief and to the point.

Pat Burrell was who we thought he was (thank you Denny Green). Burrell's .143 BA is sorry, but we expected that. Burrell's homerun presence (two homeruns) in the lineup may be the only thing keeping Bruce Bochy from inserting the "red hot" Rowand into the lineup.

Offseason acquisition Miguel Tejada wasn't all the Giants hoped he would be in his first werk, whatever they expected out of him. He is just batting .200 as a part of the Giants.

Rookie Brandon Belt can also be considered part of the "bad" category. He is a rookie and it is his first week in the major leagues, so take it for what it is, but Belt is 4 for 22 in his first week in The Bigs.

I, as I'm sure you all did, got all giddy after he impressed on Opening Night in Los Angeles, but we all saw this bit of a slump coming at some point.

A bright side: Belt is definitely a professional hitter, taking pitchers deep into counts, and having a great eye.

I'm not sure what the future holds for young Belt, but this guy has the "It" factor that teams dream of.

The Ugly

The Giants' first week got ugly at times, especially as of late.

Two pitchers provided the ugliness.

Madison Bumgarner's first opening week in the MLB didn't go as he may have planned.

He threw just three innings in San Diego, giving up three earned runs and five hits. Not the start many were hoping for from a 21-year old kid with extreme potential on the mound.

The other ugly part was Brian Wilson.

Sure, he was just coming off of the DL after a strained oblique sidelined him for a couple weeks, but a 40.50 ERA may say all that needs to be said here.

.2 innings pitched, two hits and three runs given up in 15 minutes.

The Beard was never feared less than Wednesday in San Diego.

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