After a spring training filled with health concerns, Denard Span had no trouble finding a groove offensively on Opening Day on Monday. He hit a three-run home run and went 2-for-5 with five runs batted in. (Tom Lynn/AP)

Giants stake early claim to ‘best offense in baseball’

MILWAUKEE — OK, Sluggo, how’s this for openers …

Twelve runs, 15 hits, four home runs, three doubles.

Every starter scored at least once, and all but pitcher Madison Bumgarner had at least one base knock. And he batted eighth.

Denard Span, Joe Panik and Buster Posey went deep. In a span of five pitches.

The Giants rolled out the barrels in Milwaukee on Monday, all right, and even if it came against the Triple-A Brewers, consider it a warning to National League rivals. Because if the disabled list cooperates, this has the look of the most balanced Giants team in years.

“I always have confidence in myself and teammates to say, ‘Yeah, we’re the best top-to-bottom lineup in baseball,’” Matt Duffy minced no words to Balls after the 12-3 beatdown, one in which he had a single, homer and four RBIs. “There may be teams with more power, more speed. But overall, [from a standpoint of] good hitters, good at-bats, just grinding it out, wearing pitchers down, we’re the best.”

Go ahead, find a soft spot in the order. Balls dares ya.

“It’s pretty unique,” Duffy said. “Pitchers can’t look at a guy in our lineup and say, ‘All right, I finally got an out.’ Now maybe what we’ll see is a shift toward the middle — solid pitching, solid hitting. One won’t have to necessarily carry us now.”

SAN FRANCISCO WARRIOR: Bumgarner wasn’t himself right out of the gate. He threw 26 pitches (11 strikes) in the first inning, allowed a pair home runs on 1-2 counts (Scooter Gennett and Jonathan Villar?!) and labored through five innings to pick up the victory.

Truth is, only hours after a bout with the flu, an obviously weakened Bumgarner probably shouldn’t have been on the field. But rather than throw the rotation out of whack in the first week of the season, the big lefty bit the bullet against a team that he could beat at less than his best.

“It was pretty tough throughout the entire game,” admitted Bumgarner. “I never felt like I could get dialed in, but battling through it and finding a way to win like today, sometimes that’s more rewarding.”

WAIT ’TIL NEXT YEAR: Opening Day attracted several thousand no-shows at sleepy Miller Park, where the sausage race generated the loudest commotion in the late innings. At least the Brewers will lead the league in WAR — Wieners Above Replacement.

The Brewers wrote off the season before it started — think: Athletics minus Sonny Gray — which explained why the local ESPN Radio affiliate talked at length about the Green Bay Packers’ offense before the game.

So what happened to the theory that new stadiums would save midmarket teams, anyway?

MIGHTY HAS FALLEN: Speaking of plump sausage, how bad has it gotten for ex-Giant Pablo Sandoval in Boston? So rotten that he was replaced by some Red Sox named Travis Shaw, a converted first baseman and former ninth-round draft pick.

“If you want to win, why leave the Ferrari in the garage?” Sandoval’s agent complained to Sports Illustrated.

Other than the fact that Sandoval still is overweight, has morphed into a singles hitter, possesses the range of a wounded hippo at third base and basically has become a 1985 Yugo, Balls can’t think of one reason.

JUST SAYIN’: Giants pitcher Cory Gearrin is right-handed for Al (Mad Hungarian) Hrabosky.

FULL OF BULL: Scottie Pippen says his 1995-96 Chicago Bulls would sweep the Warriors in a best-of-seven series, but it’s easy to talk when you have Michael Jordan on your side. Unless Pippen put money on it — the guy wasn’t known as No-Tippin’ Pippin without reason — his talk is cheap.

Until then, take it from the only person who covered both teams: The Warriors’ depth, versatility and 3-ball ability would give the UnbeataBulls all they could handle on a neutral court. Oh, and Stephen Curry isn’t too bad himself.

ROCKY ROAD: Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers and Broncos are said to be $4.9 million apart on a deal that would send the disenchanted quarterback to Denver, and since there’s one smart group in the bunch, figure it to get reworked before the NFL draft.

Coach Chip Kelly got a first glimpse of his last-place team on Monday, when Kaepernick showed up for no other reason than he had a bonus clause for attendance. The line addition of note was guard Zane Beadles, a Jacksonville Jaguars reject who last season allowed the fifth-most quarterback pressures at his position. And didn’t that make Kaepernick feel a whole lot better?

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.

Bruce BochyBuster PoseyChip KellyColin Kaepernickdenard spanJoe Panikjonathan villarMadison BumgarnerMajor League BaseballMatt DuffyMilwaukee BrewersPaul LadewskiSan Francisco 49ersSan Francsico Giants

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Anti-eviction demonstrators rally outside San Francisco Superior Court. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Report: Unpaid rent due to COVID-19 could be up to $32.7M per month

A new city report that attempts to quantify how much rent has… Continue reading

Music venues around The City have largely been unable to reopen due to ongoing pandemic health orders. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF to cut $2.5M in fees to help 300 nightlife venues

San Francisco will cut $2.5 million in fees for hundreds of entertainment… Continue reading

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett departs the U.S. Capitol on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after Ginsburg’s death. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
GOP senators confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court in partisan vote

By Jennifer Haberkorn Los Angeles Times The Senate on Monday confirmed Judge… Continue reading

Curator Tim Burgard looks over a section of the galleries comprising “The de Young Open,” a huge, varied collection of work by Bay Area artists. (Photo courtesy Gary Sexton/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)
Bay Area artists jam-pack vivid ‘de Young Open’

Huge exhibition — with works for sale — showcases diversity, supports community

SF Board of Education vice president Gabriela Lopez and commissioner Alison Collins listen at a news conference condemning recent racist and social media attacks targeted at them and the two student representatives on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Online attacks on school board members denounced by city officials

City officials on Monday condemned the targeting of school board members, both… Continue reading

Most Read