Game 1 proves we know nothing

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Game 1 proves we know nothing

Programming note: Tune in to Giants October Quest for complete wrap-around coverage of Game 2 today at 4pm leading up to the first pitch, and again right after the final out, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!

We are one game into this World Series, as you have probably deduced, and already this is shaping up as one of those series where we all discover how much baseball we actually dont know.

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We learned (or maybe re-learned, depending on how well we are able to process new information in place of old) that if you cant have a 97-mph fastball, its good to face guys who like to swing at 97-mph fastballs while youre throwing them 84-mph fastballs. And we also learned that 84 and located properly is as good a plan as 97.That would be Barry Zito.We learned that our preconceptions of employees have to be revisited from time to time. The Giants, who used to swing from each others heels because swinging from their own heels seemed too disciplined an approach, have actually become careful and well-trained hitters who will hit a bunch of foul balls to get to the one they want to put fair. They have developed their skills so that they can force Justin Verlander to throw 38 pitches in an inning, and have 27 of Verlanders pitches be fouled off. Thats in four innings.And thats Hensley Meulens, the hitting coach.We learned that we dont know nearly as much about pitching construction as we thought we did. We thought Madison Bumgarner had to make only one start in this series because of his mechanical problems. We thought he had to paired with Tim Lincecum because of Lincecums newfound ability to throw in long relief. We learned that Tim Lincecum isnt shackled to any one strategy, but is for the moment a true long reliever, used to put out the first fire on the horizon rather than the one that threatens the village. And we found out that Matt Cain isnt the ace in every situation, because the hot hand must always be served.RELATED: Giants,Tigers World Series capsules
And thats Bruce Bochy and Dave Righetti, who if they were interested in what you thought of their sense of structure would say, We dare you to outthink us.We learned that Pablo Sandovals weight fluctuates at-bat to at-bat as opposed to meal-to-meal, and when he hits as he has been, he cuts quite the svelte figure. We learned that Melky Cabreras talents can be replaced, though not in the linear ways we thought. We learned that individual matchups dont matter nearly as much as team constructs, as in Buster Posey doesnt have to be the key to the series, as long as hes at least one of them. We learned that its not always a stupid idea to pitch around a pitcher. We learned that defense matters, and defense requires athleticism as well as judgment.And we learned that the World Series doesnt always revolve around one guy, especially not a starting pitcher -- in this case, Verlander. Or maybe we have learned all these things, but forget them from time to time. Or maybe we know them but the need to talk incessantly between games makes us fill the day with nonsense about this guy-vs.-that-guy, and this trend-vs.-that historical anomaly. Or maybe were just better off zen-ning the whole thing, letting it unfold before and admiring the event instead of trying to prefabricate it. That last part, though, probably takes discipline than we have. We too are free swingers, in a game that demands of everyone a whole lot more patience and precision than sweeping vistas and giant presumptions allow.In short, we are one game into this World Series, and we know nothing. And let us embrace it.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.comAP Images

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — In a quiet moment in the dugout Friday, manager Bruce Bochy tried to figure out a nickname for his new budding star. During a week where Christian Arroyo has made the game look so easy, this has turned out to be the most difficult part. 

Bochy briefly settled on “Yo” before that was scuttled because the team’s video coordinator is Yo Miyamoto. Joe Panik said some players have tried C.A. or YoYo, but admitted that neither is all that good. The team’s Twitter account spent a few days trying to make Boss Baby a thing, but Arroyo wasn’t thrilled with that one and the experiment appears to be over. In a back room of the clubhouse, there’s a printout showing Arroyo and Buzz from “Home Alone,” but that comparison is much better made with Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman. 

Perhaps the answer is as simple as the path Arroyo’s bat takes to a fastball. As he watched Arroyo field grounders during batting practice, Dick Tidrow was asked about the 21-year-old. Tidrow, the team’s senior VP of player personnel, has seen and worked with Arroyo since he was drafted. 

“We always just called him The Kid,” Tidrow said. “He would turn around when I called him Kid.”

The Kid is growing up quickly. Arroyo’s second homer of the week was the game-winner Friday, an eighth-inning blast that put a lead in Mark Melancon’s hands. The new closer made sure the new third baseman’s homer didn’t go to waste, clinching a 4-3 win that got the Giants out of the National League West’s cellar. 

The homer might have surprised Arroyo as much as anyone. He came here with a reputation as a mature and talented hitter, but power is not his calling card. 

“I’m not trying to hit a homer there,” he said. “Get the head out, see a pitch over the plate, barrel something, just keep the line moving. I got a good pitch, elevated it, and fortunately it went out.”

Arroyo already speaks like a hitting coach, but he is not afraid to admit that there are things he doesn’t know. It’s easy to get film on opposing starters, but there’s little a rookie can do to prepare for late-inning pitching changes. Arroyo consulted Buster Posey and Conor Gillaspie before facing Ryan Buchter, who has been in the division for two years. Gillaspie told him Buchter’s fastball has some late life and gets on a hitter. 

“I wanted to see it and the first pitch was a little low so I got a good read on them,” Arroyo said. 

The second one was right at the belt and Arroyo pulled it down the line for his second big league homer. He had just three last year in Double-A, but the Giants felt the 36 doubles showed that power was on the way. 

“He’s got pop,” Bochy said. “He’s not a guy trying to hit homers. He tries to put a good swing on it. But he drives balls and you saw it tonight. We see him more as a gap guy, but he’ll get more power as he gets older. We’re not asking him to hit homers, trust me, but it’s good to see him letting it go.”

The homer secured a win on a night when a lot went right. Jeff Samardzija was sharp, paying for one pitch to Ryan Schimpf that left the park but otherwise pitching seven strong. Panik and Brandon Belt ignited the offense early and Michael Morse came through with a game-tying sacrifice fly in the fifth. Derek Law and Mark Melancon closed it out, with Melancon getting help from Panik, who made a spectacular tumbling catch on a flare to shallow right-center. It was a big first out given that Melancon was pitching for the third straight day. 

“It was going to be in no man’s land,” Panik said. “You give it everything you’ve got. Fortunately the ball stayed in the glove.”

When it was over, the youngest Giant was in for another round of interviews to cap a hectic week. On Monday he made his debut and on Tuesday he picked up his first hit. Wednesday brought the first homer and Thursday was the first multi-hit game. What will the weekend include? Maybe a real nickname? 

For now, the Giants are fine with leaning on The Kid, because many of them didn’t even know how young the star of the week was until he was a couple of days into his big league career.

“I was thinking he was 23 or 24,” Samardzija said. “This has been really impressive.”

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — On Monday, Christian Arroyo made his MLB debut. Tuesday brought his first hit and on Wednesday it was the first homer. Thursday’s game was his first multi-hit game as a big leaguer. What was in store Friday? The best swing yet.

Arroyo hit a go-ahead shot to left while leading off the eighth, giving the Giants a 4-3 win in their series opener with the Padres. The player coaches simply call “The Kid” has two homers in his first five games, and both have come in huge spots. Friday’s sent another jolt through AT&T Park and got a lead to Mark Melancon, who closed out the Padres. 

For four innings, a long-haired right-hander was no-hitting the Padres. Jeff Samardzija was sharp early and he got a nice cushion in the first. Joe Panik and Brandon Belt led off with singles and Panik scored on Erick Aybar’s two-out error. A Conor Gillaspie knock made it 2-0. 

The first hit allowed by Samardzija was a painful one. He plunked Yangervis Solarte to open the fifth and Ryan Schimpf hit a long dinger to dead center to tie the game. Cory Spangenberg followed with a single to left that skipped under Belt’s glove. Spangenberg went to third on the play and scored on a bloop. 

Belt made up for the play in the bottom of the inning, beating the outfield shift with a double and scoring on Mike Morse’s sacrifice fly to right two batters later. Samardzija ran into trouble in the seventh, but with two in scoring position and one out, he got a strikeout and a grounder to third. The Giants put the go-ahead run on second in their half, but Hunter Pence and Morse struck out. 

Starting pitching report: Samardzija has allowed six homers. He’s tied for fourth in the NL with a handful of players, including Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore. 

Bullpen report: Melancon has five straight saves since blowing his first opportunity as a Giant. 

At the plate: Belt reached base four times. His on-base percentage is sitting at a cool .390. 

In the field: Panik made a brilliant diving catch in center for the first out of the ninth. 

Attendance: The Giants announced a sellout crowd. One of the fans looked just like Samardzija, possibly on purpose. 

Up next: Matt Cain has a 2.42 ERA but he left his last start with a tight hamstring. He’ll face Jhoulys Chacin (2-3, 5.90).