Giants See Greene; Bonds Left in Shadows

Could we have asked for a better start to the season? I don’t think so.

The Padres won their third straight home opener, dropping the Giants 6-1 at Petco Park Monday night before a sellout crowd. And the rain that threatened all day never quite materialized, unless you are a fan of the visiting club, in which case it came in the form of home runs by Mike Piazza and Khalil Greene.

You never want to read too much into any one game, but here are a few impressions I got from the contest:

  • Jake Peavy came out firing strikes. His fastball was running 91 – 96 mph throughout the game. His command wavered a bit (by Peavy standards) during the middle innings, but he finished strong, striking out the side in the seventh to end his night. It wasn’t vintage Peavy — just 5 punchouts in 7 frames — but it was still pretty darned good. Most impressive was his efficiency; Peavy threw only 96 pitches for the game.
  • Barry Bonds was booed roundly every time he came to the plate or did pretty much anything else (I yelled “flaxseed oil” because it was funny last year and it still cracks me up; incidentally, I attribute my own weight gain over the past several years to peanut oil). He lined the first pitch he saw in 2006 into deep center. The ball short-hopped the fence for a ground rule double. Dave Roberts, playing in place of the injured Mike Cameron, appeared to get a bad break on the ball. Hard to say for sure, but I’m thinking Cameron catches that one.
  • Even after Bonds’ double, Peavy should’ve escaped the second unscathed; sure looked like Lance Niekro went around on the 1-1 pitch. To Niekro’s credit, he battled and fought off a tough pitch from Peavy to drive home the Giants’ lone run. See, now we’re just nitpicking.
  • Speaking of Bonds, he looked terrible in left field. I almost felt bad for the guy when he was hobbling after Eric Young’s “double” in the third. A buddy of mine put the over-under on Bonds’ games played at 50 this year; that seems a bit generous to me. Also, I didn’t see the syringe thrown at Bonds (didn’t learn about it till this morning) but Rich Campbell hit the nail on the head — that’s a tired act.
  • Why does everyone think that Piazza is finished? I cannot believe how hard he hit that outside fastball from Jason Schmidt over the fence in right-center. Who cares if he can’t throw (I admit, I was kind of hoping Bonds would try to steal third after his double just to see which force would yield); the guy can mash. I liked Ramon Hernandez a lot, but I don’t think we’re going to miss him much.
  • I really enjoyed watching the kids on the infield. Adrian Gonzalez, one of three local boys in the lineup, has a nice stroke; the comparisons to Wally Joyner and Mark Grace look spot-on to me. And Josh Barfield, whose father Jesse was in attendance to witness his son’s debut, had some quality at-bats. He saw 27 pitches in four trips to the plate, the second of which resulted in a shot back through the middle for his first big-league hit. Barfield is very quiet at the plate; there’s not a lot of wasted movement. Again, it’s one game, but I liked what I saw. Talk to me again in a couple months.
  • Greene looked fantastic, and I’m not talking about the hair. He hit the ball with authority every time up, lining out to center in the second, singling to right in the eighth, and blasting a two-run homer into the second deck in left field in the sixth. But Greene’s hardest shot of the evening came in the fourth, when he hammered a pitch 396 feet to straightaway center; unfortunately Randy Winn was able to leap up and grab it at the top of the fence.
  • I love watching Brian Giles run the bases. His slide into third base in the eighth on a check swing grounder back to the box by Gonzalez took out the legs of Pedro Feliz and kept him from completing a potential double play. The Padres went on to score their final two runs of the game and save closer Trevor Hoffman for another night.
  • Dave Roberts still looks uncomfortable in center field (or maybe I’m the one who’s not comfortable). In addition to misplaying the Bonds double in the second, he also turned a Moises Alou base hit in the ninth into a double by diving after a ball he had no chance of catching. In Roberts’ defense, he’s been playing left field all spring. But I’m ready for the Cameron era to begin.

Again, we’re nitpicking. The Padres raised their NL West championship flag and started the season with a commanding victory over a division rival. Couldn’t ask for much more on Opening Day.

32 Responses »

  1. Yeah, Giles taking down Feliz was great. And Piazza got a standing ovation for that homer. From me. In my apartment. By myself.

  2. Geoff — great headline.

    I was able to watch the game on ESPN2 — it was wonderful. Gonzalez looked great. Did he barehand that grounder to 1B in the first inning? Sure looked like that to me, but I wasn’t sure if I was imagining things . . . .

    I’m pretty sure that Roberts got a bad jump on the Bonds double. My first thought when I saw the ball hit was that it was catchable. It would have been great if Bonds went 0-4.

    A couple of the guys on ESPN (Morgan, Harold Reynolds) said it was the first game they’ve seen in a few years where Bonds did not walk.

  3. Game was great the only thing I would have liked to have seen was Trevor Pitch but hey ill take a 6-1 win.

  4. But did the F18s ever make it over Petco after the National Anthem? I guess they where late or something.

    It would be great if we could add a home grown third basemen to the mix. Any possibilities there?

  5. It was great being able to see the Padres play on ESPN2. I recently moved from Colorado to Maryland so I was also glad for the 7:00 (Eastern) start.

    I don’t know if it was me, but the Joe Morgan and Harold Reynolds were not ripping on the Padres as much as they have in the past. They did spend WAY TOO MUCH time on Barry, but they were giving a couple of the Padres their props (especially Greene).

    It was also fun to watch because I just got a DVR from the cable company. I was able to rewatch Piazza’s and Greene’s HR as much as I wanted.

  6. Was able to watch the replay of the game on Channel 4 last night (had to work and missed the “Live” game). Greene hit the ball on the snout every at bat. The HR looked like he knew it was coming. I was looking forward to seeing the replay on Baseball Tonight, but instead, all I got to see what Barry Bonds “highlights” and an “oh by the way, the Padres won 6-1.” Peavy dominates, Greene hits a ton, Piazza homers. No respect for our Pads.

  7. PM – re: home grown 3B … that would be Chase Headley … who I’ve heard will be starting the season @ AA Mobile … it was a toss-up between there or Lake Elsinore (High-A level) … so he’s still a ways away … just drafted out of Tennesee last season (2005) … he’s 22 … and by my view (and expectations) had a rough intro to pro ball, but hopes are still high.

    The Padres best/closest alternative to Vinny is Justin Leone who will be starting at AAA Portland. I saw a couple of spring games in early March that Justin did quite well in … not flawless in the field … not awesome at the bat … but I feel he will be a strong replacement when Vinny can’t answer the bell sometime down the road this season …

  8. I speak for everyone else too that the world revolved around Barry Bonds on the ESPN2 broadcast.. then Jon Miller (Giants TV guy) and Joe Morgan (sharp guy) didn’t know what to talk about. everyone does tend to give Khalil Greene his props though, and he showed this could be the breakout year.

  9. I live in SF and the game was broadcast on FSN and blacked out on ESPN2, but I set the Tivo to ESPN2. I caught my error in the 5th, so missed half the game. Echoing many thoughts above: good game; I am optimistic that Piazza will match or exceed Hernandez’s numbers from last year, Khalil looked very good (after a slow spring), I am very much looking forward to Cameron getting healthy, Gonzalez reminds me of Durazo, though the other comparisons are probably more apt, etc

    I think our offense will exceed last year. Our starters not named Peavy were pretty bad last year, and that is my concern this year, but I am a bit optimistic that either the current starters will gel or that Williams or Park will do well in substitution. I am most concerned about the ‘pen. Linebrink seems like the real deal and ought to be great, again. Hensley continues to impress. Can Hoffman do his magic for another year? Williams, Park, Embree who knows? They cannot be as good as the pen last year, but I am hoping it comes together.

    I have a very bad habit of the “could have beens”: Nady 4-4 as the Mets right fielder, with two doubles. The trade is a good one, but if Nady flourishes as a starter, someone has to confront Bochy’s often arbitrary affection for running out aging veterans.

  10. Great day at the park. Petco was pretty dead, honestly, until Piazza’s dinger. That ball was absolutely smoked. Watching the replay on Ch4 last night, was cool to see his teammates reaction to his dinger. Khalil looks REAL comfy this year. Pray for no broken digits.

    Giles slide was awesome! I agree, DR is NOT a centerfielder, contrary to popular opinion. Anyone figure why Terrmel Sledge wasn’t in left against Schmidt?

    I didn’t see the syringe either, and I was seated out in left, so…

    Anway, awesome start to the season

  11. Heard on the radio that EY got the start ’cause he has good career numbers against Schmidt. But I just looked it up…. 313/343/406 in 35 PAs… decent against a pitcher of Schmidt’s caliber, but not overwhelming. Better than Sledge’s 0-3 with a K. OTOH, Ben Johnson is 500/500/1500. 2 PAs. ;-)

  12. I questioned the EY start, but he looked pretty comfortable against Schmidt yesterday.

  13. I figured Sledge still isn’t quite healthy and Bochy wanted to go with the veteran right handed bat, Young, instead of Johnson.

    Great start to the year; now if we could only figure out some way to have Jake pitch every other game instead of every 5th game.

    Giles’ slide caught me totally by surprise, caught Feliz by surprise, too. I should have been expecting it as I’ve seen him do it so many times going into second, but I hadn’t seen him do it going to third. He went in hard and clean, and Feliz went down hard. Ya gotta love that old school style of play!

  14. It was an incredible game. And I have to love that Peavy just sucked the freakin’ wind out of megalomaniacal Barry Bonds sails. Whatever the case may be with Barry’s steroid issue, the last thing anyone needs is more media coverage of His Hypeness. I’m just tired of looking at his mug.

  15. I agree we don’t want to get too worked up about one game but it sure is better than losing the opener. After seeing so many deep flies to right come up short it was great to see Piazza blast one out. And Khalil looked like he was hitting BP, that was a two strike pitch and he just stepped into it like it was on a tee. What the hell was wrong with the crowd? It’s opening day, let’s see some excitement!

  16. “What the hell was wrong with the crowd? It’s opening day, let’s see some excitement! ”

    People seem like they were there to be seen and to talk with their friends for the six innings they are there for instead of watching the game! I’ve been watching this trend increase over the past few years with growing dismay. Is it this way at most ballparks? I haven’t been to a MLB game outside of SD in close to 10 years.

  17. You KNOW it’s been that way in LA for *YEARS*! It may just be a SoCal thing …

  18. I’ve avoided attending Opening Day four of the last five years exactly because of that. It’s like Opening Day at Del Mar… it’s all about the hats, not the horses.

  19. I can’t blame the crowd, I mean this was a 4pm start. kind of a whacky time locally cause you got traffic in and out of the city and people getting out of work, that being said: maybe some 405 games over the summer would work. I liked the 405 time for purposes it’s a little inventive (and since I’m on the east coast, it helps me out).

    Also the new wall color at Dodger Stadium.. hideous.

  20. Honestly, what I noticed and hate by the way, are the idiots sitting behind home plate on their cellphones during the game. Talk to them AFTER the game. If I could ever afford those tickets, I would never leave my seat, I’d be watching every pitch. Unbelievable. And then they wave because they are on TV. Uggg

  21. Well, at 4:45 pm, raining here in UC, so it doesn’t look good for tonights game, not to mention tonight’s commute. That’s a shame too, wanted to see the pads go two up on the giants. Maybe they can sneak it in though. We shall see.

    Be at Pac SBC Bell Park next tuesday for a Giants Houtston day game. Be interesting to see how gaint fans respond to bonds and how the astros look sans bagwell.

    Just hope the weather in SF is good that day, although it don’t look promising.

  22. We will have a rain delay and possibly a rain out. Wow, can’t remember the last time that happened. Has there been a rainout at Petco yet? I have tickets for Wednesday nights game. I really hope it doesn’t rain. Go Pads!

  23. Well, the strategy of “Peavy + pray for rain” appears to be working so far … any chance the storm will stick around for 3-4 more days?

  24. is it still looking bad at PETCO?

  25. Nevin jumps on the same post-Padre bandwagon that Nady’s on …

  26. I was watching the Rangers game when Nevin hit the HR…that pitch looked like a slow pitch softball coming in. Knuckleball with absolutely no movement and he crushed it..

  27. LM: Can I get an Amen?!

    Raining pretty steady in the State College area, which is not very far from Petco.

  28. This would be the first rainout at Petco, iinm.

  29. The tarp is on the field and the always stalkerish Ballpark Village cam has got water on the lens. .. seems like an almost rainout, guaranteed no Batting Practice, MTY XX hasn’t said anything yet, could be delayed for an hour or they might just call this game off.

  30. Pat … re: figure out some way to have Jake pitch every other game instead of every 5th game … AMEN!

  31. Well guys I don’t think that post-Padre bandwagon includes Mark Loretta right now (he’s starting slow).. Loretta is at .143 right now.

  32. Amen, Brother.