The Giants certainly looked like a rejuvenated ball-club in this first series of the 2009 season vs. the Brewers. Take away that one fastball Randy Johnson threw Yovanni Gallardo in Wednesday nights game and the Giants would have been looking at a 3-0 start. Nonetheless, they sit atop the NL West with the Rockies at 2-1 heading into play Friday.
Matt Cain turned in the best performance of the three starting pitchers to throw so far on Thursday, throwing 7 innings of 4 hit ball while striking out 5. As good as Cain was on Thursday and Johnson was Wednesday, the talk of the series' surrounded the bullpen and offense. Both units look much better than the versions the Giants were trotting out there in 2008, already. Jeremy Affeldt and Bob Howry look like steady additions and Brandon Medders and Joe Martinez (get well soon!) have pulled their weight so  far. The same can be said for the offense. The veterans are starting the year red hot and the youngsters have been doing their part as well. Fred Lewis leads the team with a .556 average and 4 runs scored, Pablo Sandoval is hitting .364 and Travis Ishikawa's at .333 with 3 RBI. The vets are being led by Aaron Rowand, who looks like a completely different player this season, nothing at all like the rally killing machine that he was last season. Randy Winn is also off to a big start, as he's both scored and driven in 3 runs while stealing a couple of bases and hitting .364 heading into Friday nights game. And of course there's big money Bengie Molina who's hitting a cool .417 with a HR and 5 RBI. The only Giant who has yet to really get into the action is second basemen Emmanuel Burris and to a lesser extent, Edgar Renteria. The Giants middle-infield duo has combined 2 hits in 22 at-bats, although Renteria has been on base and has scored 3 runs. Renteria was a really popular choice for "pick your free agent bust of 2009" with a lot of baseball writers, but I think he's still going to put together a decent season here. He's not going to hit .330 like he did in St. Louis, but I would expect an average in the high 2's (.285+) with at least double digit home runs and 50+ RBI. All of which would be a huge improvement, offensively, over anyone the Giants have had there since Rich Aurilia back in the early part of the decade. Just be patient with Renteria, I think he'll be OK.
Now, are the Giants going to have 6 guys hitting over .300 all season? No-way! But as I've stated before, it's crucial for this young team to get off to a good start. They always say "it's not how you start, it's how you finish", but that's not the case for this Giants team. They are  relying on young talent that needs to succeed here to gain the confidence that they belong here. Having them start the season rolling like they have is proving to this young unit that not only do they belong here, but they can win here. The Giants are now in San Diego for a three game set, a series which favors them heavily and another series that they should take at least 2 of 3 games from. I'm excited to see how Barry Zito gets his 2009 started, as he takes the ball in tonight's game vs. Shawn Hill. Now, I know chances of it happening are slim-to-none, but if Zito somehow gets back to pre-2007 Zito form, this team is going to be a good team. Not a decent young team on the up, but a legit, official "good baseball team". Not trying to add extra pressure on Zito, I mean, this is the season when the pressure is supposed to be off of him, right? Tim Lincecum has the Cy Young, Randy Johnson's in search of win number 300. Everyone has forgotten about the 126-million dollar man, it's up to him to make people remember.
- Note: Rookie right-hander Joe Martinez was placed on the 15-day DL on Friday, a day after taking a line-drive off of the forehead and being taken to the hospital. It looks like he's going to be OK, physically, lets hope he can get back on a mound sometime soon. Right-handed veteran Justin Miller will come up from Fresno to take his spot... I also wanted to give my condolences to the Adenhart familly and the Angels organization after their tragic loss on Thursday. Nick Addenhart had a bright arm and a big future and it's a shame it had to be cut short.
Trevor Cole The San Francisco Giants Blog