By DANIEL DULLUM
PHOENIX, Ariz. – Both Buster Posey and his manager, Bruce Bochy, are noncommittal about whether or not the San Francisco All-Star catcher will hit for more power this season.
“I think it’s fair to say that Buster had a little bit of a down year last year,” Bochy said. “It wasn’t a bad year, but he sets the bar so high. We’re looking for him to hit with some more power. He’ll hit his home runs, but he’s not a guy we’re looking at to hit a lot of home runs.”
Posey said, “I’m just going to try and do what I can do, stay within myself and help us win as many ballgames as we can, however many that is.
But if Opening Day at Chase Field is any indication, Posey might be on track for a memorable campaign.
Posey’s two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning put the Giants ahead to stay in a wild 9-8 NL West win over Arizona before a sellout crowd of 48,541.
“That was a good win, especially after we got down and our bullpen did a great job,” Posey said. “It was all in all, a good win.”
“For us to come back and win a game like that just shows what can happen when you go hard for nine innings,” Bochy said. “We got some big hits later in the game, then Buster came through for us in a big way.”
Bochy said he would try to get Posey a little more rest throughout the season, including the occasional start at first base.
“Sure, we’ll try to get him out of there for day games after night games, things like that,” Bochy said.
It’s only one game, but Bochy likes the idea of a full season of Brandon Belt, Pablo Sandoval, Posey and Hunter Pence hitting two through five in the Giants’ order.
“I think this is a lineup that’s capable of coming back more than we did last year,” Bochy said. “Our power, with the addition of Michael Morse, is going to help us. They showed tonight what we’re capable of.
“You look at Belt and the way he finished the second half, and the Sandoval is swinging the bat, and we should score runs.”
Giants starter Madison Bumgarner cruised through the first three innings, but suffered through a long fourth when Arizona scored four unearned runs while sending eight batters to the plate. Bumgarner wound up with a no-decision, striking out three, walking two and giving up six hits.
Jean Machi (1-0) threw a scoreless 1 2/3 innings to get the win in relief for San Francisco, while Sergio Romo hung on through a shaky ninth to pick up his first save.
“We struggled early and I hated to take Madison out,” Bochy said. “But we’re three runs down and he’s approaching 80 pitches. We had to do something to get this offense going.”
Posey hit his first home run of the season off Diamondbacks reliever Addison Reed (0-1) with two out, driving in Belt, who singled.
“It was a fastball,” Posey said of the home run pitch. “I’d never faced (Reed) before in spring training or anything. I was just looking for a pitch I could handle.”
Miguel Montero opened the bottom of the ninth with his first home run of the season; a line shot to right that closed the D-Backs’ deficit to 9-8. Chris Owings reached on a bunt single and was sacrificed to second by Gerrardo Parra. But Romo struck out pinch-hitter Eric Chavez, and A.J. Pollock popped out to Crawford at short to end the 3-hour, 25-minute game.
Belt led off the San Francisco sixth with his first home run, and the Giants tied the game by sending 10 batters to the plate in the top of the seventh. After Joaquin Arias reached on a fielder’s choice, pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza’s two-out double scored Arias to start the rally and chase Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy.
McCarthy struck out four and walked one, but also gave up six hits and five earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.
“That was a great for a young guy like Adrianza to come through like that,” Bochy said. “I think that at-bat really is what won the game for us.”
Angel Pagan followed with an RBI double off reliever Oliver Perez – scoring Adrianza. Belt singled, then Sandoval, trying to avoid getting hit, accidentally sent a chopper with some wicked English on it past the shortstop Pollock and into shallow center field, scoring Crawford. Posey singled to load the bases, and Pence followed with a game-tying RBI walk.
“I think we want to be a team that keeps grinding, and it was nice to able to do that tonight,” Posey said. “We have that confidence to know that when we’re down, we have the ability to come back.”
The Giants took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning when Brandon Crawford singled and scored on a two-out base hit by Angel Pagan. But the roof caved in for Bumgarner and the Giants in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Errors by Belt and Sandoval led to the first two Diamondback runs, allowing Mark Trumbo and Montero, respectively, to reach base. After Chris Owings singled to load the bases, Gerrardo Parra singled in Trumbo and Montero. McCarthy and A.J. Pollock struck out, but Aaron Hill doubled to drive in Owings and Parra, giving the Diamondbacks a 4-1 lead.
“Madison was throwing the ball well,” Bochy said. “There was that one inning where we gave them too many outs and they (the D-Backs) took advantage of that.”
Paul Goldschmidt was 2-for-5 for the D-Backs, extending his hitting streak to 22 games, and Trumbo was 3-for-5 in his Arizona debut. After striking out in his first two at-bats, Belt finished the game 3-for-5 with a home run, two singles and three runs scored. Pagan, Posey and Crawford each had two hits for San Francisco.
Tomorrow’s pitching matchup features Matt Cain for San Francisco against the Diamondbacks’ Wade Miley.
GIANTS JOTTINGS: Prior to the game, the Diamondbacks released C Henry Blanco, 42, from his minor league contract and was added to the team’s major league coaching staff. … On this date 16 years ago, the D-Backs played their inaugural regular season game, a 9-2 loss to Colorado at then-Bank One Ballpark. … This is the fifth consecutive season that the Giants have opened the season on the road, and the 23rd time in their last 30 seasons. … Joe Garagiola Sr., Hall of Fame broadcaster and 2014 Buck O’Neill Award recipient, threw out the first pitch. … Arizona IB Paul Goldschmidt and INF Gerrardo Parra received their 2013 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards before the game. Goldschmidt also received his 2013 Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger, Hank Aaron and Mel Ott awards. Parra also received his 2013 Wilson NL Defensive Player of the Year award. …
MORE FUN STUFF: Bill Arnold reports that LHP Madison Bumgarner is the third-youngest Giants opening day starter since the team moved west from New York in 1958, and the third-youngest left-handed opening day starter in franchise history, going back to 1883. Only Ledell “Cannonball” Titcomb (21 years, 242 days on April 20, 1888 at Washington) and Mark Davis (23 years and 167 days on April 3, 1984 vs. Chicago Cubs) were younger than Bumgarner. … According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Sydney Cricket Ground (opened in 1854) in Australia became the oldest known stadium to host a regular season Major League Baseball game when the Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers played a two-game series there in March. The previous record holder was Union Grounds, which opened in 1862 and was home of the New York Mutuals in 1876.
(TAGS: San Francisco Giants,Arizona Diamondbacks,MLB,Buster Posey)