Daily Dose: A Giant ProblemMonday, April 03, 2017
The biggest problem that the San Francisco Giants faced in 2016 was an inconsistent bullpen that blew a league-high 29 save chances. Gone from that corps of late-inning relievers are Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo, while the club went out and invested $62 million in closer Mark Melancon.
Fast-forward to Opening Day 2017, and the same problem reared its ugly head. On a day where the Giants’ faithful should have been celebrating an Opening Day victory, and the tremendous hitting prowess of ace Madison Bumgarner, the story once again lands on the bullpen’s inability to protect a lead.
Bumgarner carried a perfect game into the sixth inning of this one, before allowing a pair of hits and a two-run homer to A.J. Pollock to tie the game at 3-3 (a lead that was partially built by his 410-foot blast off Zack Greinke in the fifth inning). He then went out and slugged another solo homer in the seventh to give us club a 4-3 advantage and line himself up for a victory.
Derek Law was called upon in the eighth inning to protect that lead, and was tabbed with his first blown save of the season after allowing an RBI single to Paul Goldschmidt. These Giants are resilient though, and scratched out another run in the top half of the ninth, setting the stage for Melancon to record a save in his Giants’ debut.
Melancon recorded the first two outs without any difficulty, but then allowed a two-out double to light-hitting backstop Jeff Mathis. Daniel Descalso followed with a run-scoring single to tie the game and advanced to third base on a single by A.J. Pollock. That’s when Chris Owings delivered the final blow, punching a base hit into right field to send the Diamondbacks home as walk-off winners in manager Torey Louvullo’s official managerial debut.
Melancon hadn’t allowed a run in Cactus League play and should be fine at the back end of the bullpen this season. While it’s a terrible way to start the season, it is only one game out of 162 and there’s plenty of time left for the Giants’ late-inning arms to prove they are capable of protecting a lead.
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C-Mart Dazzles in Opener
Carlos Martinez pitched brilliantly against the defending World Champion Cubs on Opening Night, punching out 10 batters over 7 1/3 shutout innings. He allowed just six hits along the way and didn’t walk a batter. Martinez ran his fastball up to 100 mph in the contest while displaying terrific command and keeping Cubs’ hitters off-balance with his treacherous changeup.
He departed the game with a 1-0 lead and in line for a victory, but while Seung Hwan Oh was able to battle out of a jam in the eighth inning, he faltered in the ninth and was unable to protect his lead.
Martinez became the first Cardinals’ hurler to strike out 10 or more batters on Opening Day since Bob Gibson accomplished the feat in 1975. The 25-year-old is off and running on what could be a Cy Young Award caliber season. Fantasy owners who invested an early round selection in the right-hander have to be thrilled with the early returns.
Down Goes Osuna!
Fantasy owners were dealt a punch to the gut on Sunday morning when the Blue Jays announced that Roberto Osuna would begin the season on the 10-day disabled list with a cervical spasm. It’s reportedly an issue that he has dealt with for a couple of weeks now, though he did appear in Grapefruit League games last week.
While the Blue Jays are making it sound like a minor issue, there is no clear timetable for his return at the moment. The Jays are likely to roll with some combination of Jason Grilli and Joe Biagini in the ninth inning, but again, that has yet to officially be determined.
Fantasy owners who invested an early-round pick in Osuna are now either forced to speculate on Grilli or Biagini, or save their free agent dollars and hope that Osuna’s issue is indeed only a short-term problem.
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American League Quick Hits: Masahiro Tanaka had an Opening Day to forget, getting blasted for seven runs in 2 2/3 innings in a loss to the Rays… Chris Archer fanned five over seven innings of two-run ball to earn the victory… Alex Colome picked up his first save of the season after being called upon to work out of a bases loaded jam… Logan Morrison went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI as the Rays topped the Yankees… Tigers’ general manager Al Avila said that the club will look into signing recently released outfielder Melvin Upton Jr…. Hunter Dozier is expected to miss 6-8 weeks after being diagnosed with a Grade 2 oblique strain… Collin McHugh (arm) came through a simulated game without issue and is on track for a return in mid-April… J.D. Martinez had the cast removed from his foot on Monday… Mitch Moreland (flu) has been cleared to play on Opening Day… The Indians signed Roberto Perez to a four-year contract extension worth a guaranteed $9 million… Dylan Covey is expected to open the season as the fifth starter for the White Sox.
National League Quick Hits: Randal Grichuk was the hero for the Cardinals on Sunday, blasting a two-run homer and delivering a walk-off RBI single in the ninth… Aledmys Diaz victimized Jon Lester for a pair of stolen bases… Willson Contreras slugged a three-run homer off of Seung Hwan Oh to tie the game at 3-3 in the ninth… A.J. Pollock went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBI in a losing effort against the Giants… Padres released veteran infielder Brett Wallace after a rough spring… Zack Greinke allowed two earned runs over five innings against the Giants… Fernando Rodney earned a victory despite allowing a run on two hits and two walks in his D’Backs debut… Antonio Senzatela officially made the Rockies’ starting rotation… Adam Frazier will start in left field and bat leadoff for the Pirates on Opening Day while Gregory Polanco hits out of the DH slot… The Cardinals officially announced Yadier Molina’s three-year, $60 million contract extension.