San Francisco will assuredly keep the momentum gained in a 7-3 win over the Padres if starting pitchers Matt Cain and John Garland can miraculously return to the mound tonight with exactly the same stuff they possessed on Thursday.
Since Cain can't duplicate his masterful performance for San Francisco, and Garland won't be out there to help the Giants make Petco Park play like a band box, all momentum gained on Thursday ends when the first pitch is thrown on Friday.
Different starting pitchers. Different lineups. If Jonathan Sanchez can pitch as well as Cain did, the Giants could keep the momentum, especially if Padres starter Clayton Richard struggles like Garland did in helping San Francisco's batting order look like the 1927 New York Yankees in the series-opener.
Giants fans will choose to believe that the club's superior heart, desire and focus resulted in the boys' bats heating up at the start of a four-game offensive explosion. The Padres' faithful will rest assured that Richard will pitch well and that San Diego hitters will solve Sanchez a little more easily than they did Cain.
So, let's consider what we do know from the Giants opening-night win:
** Fans who griped all season long about the Giants' decision to extend second baseman Freddy Sanchez's contract must feel silly. Or, perhaps, they don't understand the value of brilliant defense in the middle infield and a big league hitter who finds ways to get things going.
** The value of Andres Torres to the Giants' batting order can't be disputed. That lead-off knock to start the game made a big difference.
** The Giants wouldn't be one game out of the NL West (and NL wild-card) race without Pat Burrell. That home run that he sent into orbit, crashing off the brick wall of the building that occupies space inside Petco Park, brought back memories of the old Giants teams that specialized in the home run.
** Cody Ross is pressing to perform in a playoff race and make the Marlins seem even more foolish in giving him away on waivers. He might want to stop choking the ash out of the handle of the bat and just let the game come to him.
** There are some who see young outfielder Darren Ford's mind-bending speed on the bases and quietly think, "I wonder if he might not merit a start or an at-bat as a late-inning defensive replacement ... just to see if he can show an ability to work his way on base from time to time, down the stretch.
** Folks who cringed when the Giants passed on trying to obtain Miguel Tejada should be acknowledging that the organization's decision was money well saved. There's not a lick of defense, at the plate or in the field, between Tejada and Juan Uribe.
** While the well known Giants "insiders" ponder rhetorical questions regarding which starting pitcher they'd pick to start a one-game playoff, they might slow down before insisting that Tim Lincecum is the only logical choice. Cain has made the case that he has become the club's most reliable, and effective, starting pitcher. Things could change if Lincecum turns in a third straight gem on Sunday.
** The Giants should sign Aubrey Huff to a longer-term deal in the off-season. He came up big on Thursday, as he has all season. The club has no young first baseman or middle-of-the-order bat ready to jump to the big leagues any time soon. The metrics and comparative salaries that dominate off-season chatter won't reflect Huff's true value to the Giants.
** Burrell's reputation, his personality, means nothing to Giants fans as long as he's swinging the bat well. A reader complained that Burrell reported arrogance is "rubbing off" on Buster Posey. Hey, the guy's not dating a family member so...let's agree to appreciate what Burrell does with a bat in his hands. Period.
** Posey's going to be the Giants leader for years to come so, really, a little bit of swagger and some red-ass rubbing off on him would actually be a good thing.
** They've pitched well for the most part, but there's no reason to rush the Giants middle-inning relievers into action. Thus, Sanchez is in a spot where working into the seventh inning would save San Francisco fans some trouble.
** Pablo Sandoval has reached the point where having a healthy Edgar Renteria to play shortstop merits moving Uribe to third base against some pitchers. It would help Sandoval to know he doesn't have to feel any need to do more than what he's done all season -- heat up, cool off, heat up, cool off. The Giants don't want him playing the final 21 games pressing to recreate his 2009 performance.
** Bud Black, like every other big league manager, is only as smart as his players make him look. He opted not to walk Posey intentionally in that pivotal point in the fifth inning and Garland served up a home run.
** No, the Giants shouldn't be thinking about the sizzling Rockies who trail them by a couple of games in the NL West. All the Giants have to do is focus on their game until the clubs open their three-game series in Colorado Sept. 24.
** "Desire," "heart," or "wanting it more" will have nothing to do with a single win or loss through the remainder of the season. Every team and every player really wants to help his team get into the playoffs. Great pitching, timely hitting ... those things matter.
Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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