Opening Day in San Francisco. A mountain of rolling clouds on the left field horizon. McCovey Cove casting up marine perfumes, and a breeze wafting it over the right field fence, into the park. Pennants rippling on the center field scoreboard, and a sellout crowd humming in anticipation of April baseball by the Bay.
In a rematch of the four game series San Francisco played to open the season, the Giants struck first in the bottom half of the fourth inning. Diamondback starter Taijuan Walker loaded the bases on a double and two walks before Matt Moore, the Giants starter, tapped a grounder forty feet up the first base line. Walker fielded it, but threw the ball by catcher Jeff Mathis. Brandon Crawford scored. Mathis then hustled to the backstop and tried to throw out the hustling Joe Panik, but wound up throwing the ball back up the first base line. Finally, Jarrett Parker scored when Paul Goldschmidt’s throw arrived milliseconds too late to nab the hustling rook. Parker jumped up, pirate locks flailing, and pumped his fist.
“I had to make sure Joe [Panik] was going home first, so I [didn’t] get hung up, but once I saw [him] go home I wanted to take a good roundabout on third, then I saw the ball kick and I went for it,” Parker said. “It was instinct.”
Thus, the Giants took a three run lead on a ball that never left the infield. Moore stood at second base, laughing at his three run little league double.
“That was fun,” Moore said. “You probably haven’t seen that before in a game.”
The D-backs responded with a solo blast off the bat of Yasmany Tomas in the fifth, but that would be all they would get off Moore. The Giants lefty would finish with an impressive eight inning stat line that included five strikeouts and just three hits along with the lone earned run on ninety three pitches.
“Could I have sent him back out? Yeah, I could have,” manager Bruce Bochy said of his starter. “But that’s the luxury of having one of the elite closers in the game… you can give your starter a break.”
And Mark Melancon, the man to whom Bochy was referring, did just that. He allowed a leadoff double to Chris Owings, but then got three consecutive betters to fly out and sealed the Giant win.
Walker, on the other hand, went five three run innings and issued four walks before handing the ball to the bullpen.
The Giants would score once off the Arizona ‘pen thanks to a long sac fly off the bat of Brandon Crawford in the seventh that scored Hunter Pence. The ball would have been well out of most ballparks in the country, but at AT&T, it was a 420 foot out.
Asked if that was the longest sac fly of his career, Crawford smiled and said, “It’s up there.”
Maybe the most important headline of the day, though, had nothing to do with the win. Buster Posey took a 94 mph fastball off the helmet in the first inning and promptly exited (under his own power). Bochy noted that his catcher may have stayed in the ballgame if he wasn’t, well, a catcher.
“He was hit in the head and he’s a catcher,” Bochy said. “So now, he’s even more at risk. If he’s catching and he takes a foul tip… well, we didn’t want to risk that, so that’s why he came out.”
Bochy insisted that Posey was coherent and in good spirits. Still, the “thwack” of the ball meeting the helmet was disturbing, and Posey will remain under observation.