Pregame. Introduce entire lineups for Giants and Cardinals including trainers. Hoist that World Series pennant up the pole. Bruce Bochy brings in the World Series trophy. Cheering. Nostalgia. Tradition. Etc.
OK, that was the scene setter for the Giants' home opener, a 1-0 win over St. Louis. Now can we talk ball?
This was the perfect game for the Giants to launch the defense of their world championship, to launch it at home. It was perfect in style. They got one run and they pitched flawlessly. That's the template, simple as that. Call it Giants Ball. And you know the Giants will win a bunch of games like this in 2013. If Vegas has any brains, it will give an over/under on the number of Giant's one-run wins. How about 50?
After the game, which the Giants won on an RBI walk — hardly an offensive avalanche — Will Clark addressed the concept of Giants Ball:
"For us to come out here and win a nail-biter and win by one run, an unearned run, it's typical of Giants baseball, goes back to that torture thing. Teams that have been through this before — and we've been through it the last three years — know how to work the little plays. It's fun to play in a game like that because you know every pitch, every fielding play, every at-bat, every swing could mean the ballgame."
Fun is one way to describe it.
Get a load of these numbers. Buster "National League MVP" Posey has zero RBIs. Marco "National League Championship Series MVP" Scutaro is batting a shrimpy .067. Pablo "World Series MVP" Sandoval is batting a subdued .214, but somehow playing world-class defense despite his prodigious boiler. The Giants, qua team, are batting .210, just above the Mendoza Line.
And there's one other number: 3-1. Which is the Giants' record.
What do all these numbers mean?
The Giants are in midseason form and defending their title just fine. They are defending their title because the starting pitchers are lights out. Because Barry Zito, who used to be a joke, has become a genius, throwing his slow pitches to the exact right spots. On Friday, he pitched how he pitched in the postseason when he became an important figure in the starting rotation. He got the honor of pitching opening day at home, and he came through.
Bill Laskey, a former Giants pitcher and analyst deluxe on Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area, looked at Giants pitching this way. And it's not what you'd expect: "The starting pitchers are believing in Buster Posey," Laskey said. "They rely on him as the centerpiece. You hardly see them shake him off at all. Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum didn't like to pitch to him. The confidence in Posey came in the playoffs." (FYI: Lincecum did not pitch to Posey in L.A.).
And the Giants are doing well, defending their championship like champs, because, among other things, closer Sergio Romo, who saved Zito's game, has three saves in four games. Here is an extended Romo interlude, Romo at his cubicle after the game. Why an extended Romo interlude? Just because.
"They just give me an opportunity to be somebody, and I've got a spot at the table here," he said. "These guys allow me to be me. They accept the little kid in me."