PHOENIX – There is an upshot to starting a game with Buster Posey and Michael Morse on the bench.
You have Buster Posey and Michael Morse on your bench.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy feels better about his lineup depth this season, which is why he felt he could afford to rest his cleanup man and power-hitting left fielder Thursday afternoon. It’s also why he felt comfortable leaving Brandon Belt at first base and not wedging Posey’s bat into the lineup there.
It all worked out for the Giants in the end. Belt hit a home run to provide an early lead, and when Arizona nudged in front with a couple home runs against Tim Lincecum, Bochy had all his weapons ready to deploy in the late innings.
How does this sound: 2 for 2 with a home run, a walk and four runs scored. That’s what the Giants bench did to help them draw even, and Angel Pagan crushed a tiebreaking three-run home run as they trotted off with an 8-5 victory at Chase Field.
The Giants won three of four in their season-opening series against the Diamondbacks, with their high-powered offense rallying for a pair of those wins.
Brandon Hicks’ first at-bat as a Giant resulted in his first career pinch home run. That solo shot came in the seventh inning, and Bochy hit the red button to empty the rest of his bench in the eighth.
Starting pitching report
Tim Lincecum’s twin goals this season are to limit walks and get lots of crappy contact.
He was 1 for 2 in his season debut.
Lincecum completed six innings without walking a batter, something he’s done just 16 times in 221 career starts. But there is nothing crappy about the contact Paul Goldschmidt makes against him, and perhaps you can add Mark Trumbo to that list, too.
Goldschmidt rocked Lincecum for a two-run home run in the first inning and Trumbo hit what amounted to a bookend two-run shot in the sixth, the latter of which snapped a tie and set up Lincecum to lose before the Giants rallied.
Lincecum took the ball as scheduled despite taking a line drive off his knee last Saturday and coming down with food poisoning Tuesday. Goldschmidt might have sent over a case of Pedialyte and a masseuse to ensure Lincecum made the assignment.
For Goldschmidt, new mustachioed Lincecum is the same as the old Lincecum. He crushed a first-pitch fastball in the first inning for his sixth home run in just 21 career at-bats against the two-time Cy Young Award winner. (Some perspective: Chase Headley and Ryan Howard are next with four career homers off Lincecum, and they’ve done it in 44 and 37 at-bats, respectively.)
Lincecum finally retired Goldschmidt in the third inning … when he singled and was thrown out trying to stretch a double. He flied out in the sixth, dropping his average to .522 (12 for 23) against him.
At that point, Lincecum was in line for a good outing, at least departing a 2-2 game through six innings. But his 2-1 slider barely broke, and Trumbo punished it over the yellow line in right-center.
Lincecum ended up allowing four runs on eight hits in six innings. He struck out seven, which ranked as his most in a season debut start.
David Huff was charged with a run that scored on Jean Machi’s watch in the seventh inning, but otherwise the bullpen held the Diamondbacks in check. Santiago Casilla was sharp while retiring all five hitters he faced in the eighth and ninth. Javier Lopez entered and got Eric Chavez to ground out to end it.
Sergio Romo, who warmed up three times before getting the save a night earlier, began to get loose at one point in the ninth but Bochy avoided pushing his closer.
At the plate
Belt joined Willie Mays, Kevin Mitchell and Barry Bonds – three Giants who won NL MVP awards – as the only players in franchise history to homer in three of four games to open the season.
Hector Sanchez’s sacrifice fly tied it in the fourth and the Giants worked several tough and long at-bats to drive up Bronson Arroyo’s pitch count in his Diamondbacks debut.
Arroyo threw 82 pitches and lasted just 4 1/3 innings – his shortest start against the Giants since his very first one against them 14 years ago. (What was the extent of Arroyo’s ownage against the Giants? Well, he threw two complete games for the Reds last season – and they came in his only two starts against the Giants.)
The Giants couldn’t get to Arizona’s middle relief, but Hicks made it a 5-3 deficit when he went deep in the seventh. Then came the five-run outburst against right-hander Will Harris in the eighth.
Hunter Pence, who got his first hit of the season earlier in the game, started the rally with a walk and Sanchez hit an RBI double into the right field corner. After Brandon Crawford made the second out, Bochy got aggressive. Even with first base open, he sent up Posey to hit for Adrianza and Harris nibbled with two fastballs before dropping the pretense and intentionally walking him. Bochy followed by sending up Morse in the pitcher’s spot, and the excitable right-handed hitter lost his helmet in the batter’s box as his ground single bled through the middle.
Pinch runner Juan Perez scored easily from second base and Pagan turned an enthused dugout into a jubilant one when he connected on a first-pitch fastball for his eighth hit of the four-game series. Pagan raised a fist as he rounded the bases.
A double play isn’t the pitcher’s best friend when the pitcher fails to cover first base. That’s what Huff allowed to happen in the seventh, which allowed the inning to continue. Aaron Hill followed with an RBI double off Machi.
Otherwise the Giants played an error-free game and Hunter Pence racked up his second outfield assist in four games – surprisingly matching his total from all of last season – when he threw out Goldschmidt in the third.
The Diamondbacks announced 19,131 paid for a rare day game with the roof cracked open at Chase Field. A costumed lot of seafarers, including the Gorton’s Fisherman, populated the right field pool area, and posted a sign with the Dodgers logo crossed out that read, “Protect this pool.”
The Giants begin a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday at Chavez Ravine. Ryan Vogelsong makes his season debut and with Clayton Kershaw on the DL, the Dodgers will send left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (1-0, 0.00 ERA in two starts) to the mound in their home opener.