Hunter Pence’s eighth-inning grand slam provided the exclamation point for the Giants’ 12-6 come-from-behind beatdown of the Dodgers in Thursday’s home opener.
But the blast, which produced the loudest of all the “Beat LA” chants on a day the crowd spent much of the afternoon belting out the famous phrase, wasn’t the key to the Giants’ victory. That distinction belonged to all those pesky singles.
“This is an incredible lineup,” Pence said after San Francisco piled up 17 hits — including 13 singles. “We have a lot of guys that are going to compete with you no matter what you’ve got and you’re going to [have to] earn the outs.’”
The Giants’ relentless station-to-station offense was on full display in the sixth inning when the they crossed the plate four times — courtesy of five singles — to take the lead for good.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a mindset,” Matt Duffy explained when asked if the Giants step to the plate with a game plan of simply trying to keep the line moving. “If an opportunity presents itself to move a guy [over] or take an extra base, we’re going to do it.”
Mindset or not, the Giants have a knack for singling the opposition to death. Last year, the ultra-aggressive Giants led the National League in batting average. And if Thursday was any indication, the lineup is poised to repeat.
With Denard Span newly employed as the table-setter and Angel Pagan serving as a de facto leadoff man from the No. 9 spot, the Giants lineup is the deepest manager Bruce Bochy has ever seen.
“It’s almost an order you could draw out of a hat and you’d be happy with who’s hitting where with this offense,” Bochy said, repeating a joke he made throughout the spring.
While the skipper has all sorts of options when stringing his lineup together, it’s the kind of order that gives opposing pitchers fits.
“It’s fun to watch as a pitcher on this team,” Javier Lopez said with a chuckle. “It can be frustrating. I can see that having to face these guys because they are a lot of contact guys, high-average guys.”
The contact-happy offense will be a major boon for the Giants hurlers — especially the suspect back-end of the rotation, which features Jake Peavy and Matt Cain.
Against the Dodgers, it was easy to forget Peavy’s wobbly afternoon — four runs on 10 hits scattered across five innings — because the Giants offense just wouldn’t let up.
“He found a way not to let the game get away from us,” Bochy said, offering a less than ringing endorsement of the right-hander. “That’s huge with this offense because they can click at any time.”Bruce BochyHunter PenceJake PeavyJavier Lopezkarl buscheckMatt CainMatt DuffyMLBSan Francisco Giants