Giants-Brewers: Some Positives To Take Away Despite Loss to Brew Crew

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IApril 9, 2009

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23:  Randy Johnson of the San Francisco Giants poses during photo day at Scottsdale Stadium on February 23, 2009 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by: Harry How/Getty Images)

Well, after opening day fireworks on the field, Giants fans who decided to stick around for the actual fireworks on opening night, did so after watching a disappointing loss in the first night-game of the season.

Despite cruising out of the blocks in his first career appearance in a Giants uniform, Randy Johnson was beat with two home-runs which paved the way for the Brewer's 4-2 win over the Giants.

Arguably the most unnoticed free-agent pitching signing in MLB this offseason, Johnson's arrival to San Francisco ought to help bolster a rotation that was already amongst the best in baseball in 2008.

The Big Unit got off to a quick start in his debut, striking out the first two hitters he faced and finishing off the inning three-up-three-down. However, unlike opening day, when the Giants offense exploded for 10 runs, San Francisco's bats went cold.

After Johnson let up a solo home-run to Milwakuee's center fielder Mike Cameron in the top of the second, the Giants tied up the score 1-1 in the bottom of the inning by playing quality baseball.

With one out and nobody on, Ishikawa singled to center, Rowand doubled down the third base line and Emmanuel Burriss put the ball on the ground to knock in Ishikawa.

Johnson and Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo both breezed through the third and fourth innings with the Big Unit picking up another two strikeouts.

However, in the top of the fifth, the Brewers would take the lead for good. After getting the first two hitters out, Johnson then let up a double down the left-field line to Bill Hall. Giants manager Bruce Bochy would then decide to make the questionable move to walk eighth place hitter Jason Kendall to bring up pitcher Yovani Gallardo.

Normally a move many would make but Kendall is absolutely no power threat at the plate, as the Brewers catcher hasn't hit more than three homers in a season since 2003. But the pitcher Gallardo had 2 previous career home runs in just 49 at-bats, with a solid .247 batting average. Clearly not an easy out compared to most starting pitchers.

After the intentional walk to Kendall, Gallardo blasted a three-run homer down the left-field line in a two-strike count when Johnson left a pitch up over the middle of the plate. The three-run bolt gave the Brewers a lead they wouldn't surrender.

However, there were some positives for the Giants to take out of their first loss of the season.

Randy Johnson recorded seven strikeouts in five innings and looked sharp except for one pitch that got away from him.

Young reliever Merkin Valdez who unfortunately spent the majority of last season on the disabled list, threw two scoreless innings allowing only a single-base runner, a Ryan Braun double in the sixth.

Relievers Brandon Medders and Alex Hinshaw threw scoreless eighth and ninth innings respectively showing that the Giants bullpen can perform when called upon.

So far in 10 innings of work (which is indeed to high this early in the season), Giants relievers have been knocked for only two earned runs and closer Brian Wilson's fastball is already reaching triple digits.

In the seventh inning, Bengie Molina's inability to get the key hit to tie the score in his at-bat with the bases loaded and two-outs and the Giants down only two runs wouldn't have been possible without the clutch RBI single by Randy Winn.

After Rowand doubled to lead-off the inning, Randy Winn drove a hanging breaking ball into the right-center field gap for a huge two-out RBI single.

However, that would be the last threat the Giants would have as Molina's ground-out with the bases-loaded was the last real formidable chance the Giants had at coming from behind.

The offense was shut-down one-two-three in both the eighth and ninth innings.

Tomorrow Matt Cain will take the hill in the rubber match of this series with the Brew Crew, and hopefully Cain can get some much needed run support and go deep into the game to give the bullpen some much needed rest.

However, Cain should feel he can trust his relievers this year as he won't have to worry about Tyler Walker blowing any more of his potential victories.