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Home opener for the Giants. Has everything. Including a 12-6 Giants win.
Dodgers in town. Dodgers undefeated. Dodgers haven’t given up a run. Dodgers have aura of invincibility.
Sellout crowd. Of course.
Giants-Dodgers one of the great rivalries in sports. Anywhere on Earth.
Crowd sees the Giants fall behind fast. Dodgers beating Jake Peavy’s brains out. Loud thacks. Rockets all over the place. Jumping on Peavy early in the count. No mystery here. No respect. Get Peavy.
As you watch, maybe you’re thinking the Giants have two elite starters, Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, and after them, oh brother. And that may be true.
But, on opening day, Peavy’s problems are merely the stage-setter for heroism, for the “true” Giants to emerge. The super-hero-in-hiding routine. And learn this quick — this season’s true Giants are different from previous seasons’ true Giants.
These true Giants can hit. Truly, they can. No duds in the batting order. Anywhere. Except the pitcher. Angel Pagan is relegated to batting ninth and he can whack. Two hits on the day. Two RBIs. Sees better pitches with Denard Span batting behind him instead of the pitcher. Good day for Pagan.
These new true Giants whack and bust and crunch. And they do that in the opener. Come back from down 4-0. No sweat.
Know this. The Dodgers come into the game on the verge of tying a big-league beginning-of-season record by holding opponents scoreless through 32 innings. Giants ruin that.
So, yes, the Giants fall behind and stage a comeback. Show grit. Overcome adversity. There is so much adversity for good teams to overcome in baseball. Take a three-run lead in the sixth. And then the Giants almost give it away.
Sergio Romo comes into the game in the eighth. Classic Romo moment. Classic Romo routine. Priceless.
Runs out to the mound. Agitated. Stalks the grass behind the mound. Rubs nose with sleeve. Compulsive nose rubber. Rubs ball. Wets fingers. Adjusts cap. Steps onto mound. Finally. Adjusts cap again. Touches bill of cap. Stretches arm. Leans toward home plate. Finally. Stares at Buster Posey. Romo all jittery and jerky and quick.
And then he gives up a two-run homer to Joc Pederson.
Oh, God, is this really happening?
No problem. It’s another stage-setter for the new true Giants to assert themselves again, to score five in the bottom of the eighth. Blow the opener open.
A chance to see Yasiel Puig — him! — come up with two outs in the top of the ninth. The potential last out. A chance to hear the crowd boo him. Giants fans love to hate Puig. A chance to hear the crowd chant, “Beat L.A.”
A chance to see Hunter Strickland pitch to Puig, Strickland throwing 97 and 98 mph. Serious heat. Dead red. A chance to see Puig strike out swinging. A chance for the crowd to go nuts.
A chance to hear Tony Bennett sing he left his heart in San Francisco. A chance to imagine a giant ventricle beating on Nob Hill.
We can’t get enough of you, Tony. And as the crowd leaves, the fog rolls in. Really, it does. Like a sign from somewhere.
And afterward, Bruce Bochy enters the interview room. His team 3-1. Says he can leave his starting pitcher in longer because his guys can hit. Boy, can they hit.
I say to Bochy, “For a long time, your team was great pitching and good hitting, timely hitting. It seems like maybe it’s a better hitting club now. Has the personality of the team changed on the field?”
Bochy thinks about this. “We have more depth,” he says. “The lineup is stretched out more than I think we’ve ever had. In the long run, you’ll see a better offensive club. In that last series, Milwaukee did a pretty good job the last two games. We scored two runs and three runs. That’s going to happen.
“But, as far as consistency, this is a club that should put up more runs. We will hit with more power. Power — I’m not just talking about home runs but doubles and those type things. It’s nice to have an offense where you don’t lean on one guy or two guys. Everybody can do something to help you win a ballgame. That’s how good they are.”
He means there’s been a personality change, a personality graft. Used to be Bumgarner or Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain had to be almost flawless because who knew where the runs would come from? (Where is Timmy?) Now there’s leeway. Now there’s heavy hitting. Now there’s pitcher forgiveness. Now there’s pitcher grace period. Ask Peavy.
It’s an offense that comes alive fast and ruthlessly. It’s aggressive. It’s flexible. “I can move them around,” Bochy says. “It’s almost an order you can draw out of a hat and you’d be happy with it.”
Joe Panik agrees. “The way we started off down 4-0 it just gives us confidence that it doesn’t matter what the score is with our lineup. We can come back and keep putting pressure on them.
“When they got the two runs in the eighth, we came back with more. We’ve got the kind of lineup that can keep adding on.”
After the players leave, after the now-defeated and somewhat defeatist Dodgers return to their hotel, the grounds crew rolls the white tarp onto the infield, and the seagulls swoop and squawk and opening day is over but the season still is just beginning. The right way.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at email@example.com.