It must have be a heartening thing for the World Champion Giants to play this spring before their now adoring fans.
Surely, on Sunday, when the team took on the struggling Seattle Mariners, the abundance of zealous San Francisco supporters, as opposed to the dearth of Marinerites, was oppressive. But, the pitching match-up pretty much reveals the state of each team: Tim Lincecum against Nate Robertson.
True to form, the Giants did indeed win, behind Lincecum, who turned in a second strong performance in a row, going 3.2 innings, walking a pair, hitting a batter, and allowing a hit, while whiffing six. Lincecum was pulled in the fourth when he loaded the bases after throwing swinging third strike wild pitch to Jack Cust, who outran Buster Posey's throw to first. Lincecum then struck out Justin Smoak, but Ryan Langerhans, who was the offense for the Mariners Sunday, belted a single, and after another whiff, Josh Bard was hit by pitch and Lincecum exited.
On the Giants side, Pablo Sandoval drove in the team's first run with a first inning single, while shortstop Miguel Tejada tripled in two in the third, and backstop Posey plated two more with a fifth inning double.
I have been harsh on Sandoval since late in 2010, as the third baseman was letting his first pitch, bad ball swinging ways allow National League pitchers to solve the youngster. In fairness, a slimmer Sandoval looked great in the field, turning a line drive into a double play in the first, contributing to the team's offense as noted, and actually taking a pitch each of his first two at-bats. I want the Panda to succeed, so I hope this is a harbinger. I am just not holding my breath.
On the Mariners end, Langerhans did drive in the lone Seattle run in the sixth with a double, and great looking prospect Dusting Ackley led the game off with a sharp single, but otherwise, the poor M's looked hapless, unable to score when the opportunity presented itself, while allowing the Giants to take advantage during the inverse.
Perhaps, however, the biggest moment of the day was when closer Brian Wilson walked onto the field, beard and all, to do his work in the fifth. Wilson struck out a pair, and got Milton Bradley to line out to Sandoval to complete his work. However, as the man who threw the final pitch of the 2010 season approached the mound, the multitudes at Scottsdale Stadium rose to their feet in appreciation.
It could shape up to be a fun 2011 for the orange and black.