LOS ANGELES – The last time the Giants scored at least six runs in the first inning here in the den of their arch rivals, Willie Mays and Duke Snider were patrolling center field. Johnny Podres was the pitcher taken to the showers.
And Dodger Stadium was still a construction site. It happened Sept. 4, 1958, at Los Angeles Coliseum.
It’s one thing to ruin your Dodgers' home opener. It’s another to walk onto the field, as the Giants did Friday afternoon, and leave cleat marks all over the white carpeting.
They used a series of hard-hit pitches, a couple bloops and some seriously bad Dodgers defense to score six runs in the first inning, and then tacked on two more in the second inning. It was alarming that Ryan Vogelsong couldn’t last long enough to earn the victory, given the historic level of support he received. But the bullpen held firm in an 8-4 victory.
The most amazing part of the Giants’ two rallies: all eight of their runs scored with two outs.
Starting pitching report
Vogelsong’s outing resembled many of his starts in the spring. His stuff was crisp in the first few innings, but he became erratic once he got taxed.
Vogelsong hit 93 mph in the early innings and entered the fourth having pitched around a single and two walks. But then Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier hit back-to-back home runs, and Juan Uribe followed with a double off the wall.
It was clear that Vogelsong didn’t have put-away stuff at that point. Gonzalez hit a 1-2 slider or cutter, Ethier hit a 2-2 curve and Uribe hit an 89 mph fastball. Vogelsong managed to strand Uribe to keep it an 8-2 lead and get within three outs of a victory.
But he couldn’t survive the fifth, and Bruce Bochy could only supply so much twine. Vogelsong gave up three consecutive hits to start the inning before David Huff relieved him and allowed one of two inherited runners to score.
Four relievers combined for five innings without a run on their ledger, and Juan Gutierrez – who blew the lead in the Giants’ only loss in five games – was the most impressive. He recorded three of his four outs via strikeout while throwing 96 mph.
The official scorer awarded the victory to Huff, who struck out three in 1 2/3 innings.
At the plate
Maybe the whole team ate rally enchiladas. The Giants nearly went down in order in the first inning, but Pablo Sandoval worked a two-out, bases-empty walk and ended up becoming the first of nine consecutive batters to reach against lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, who had been unscored upon in his first two starts this season.
Buster Posey doubled off the left field wall, Michael Morse singled to center, Brandon Belt dropped a lawn-dart blooper into right field and Brandon Hicks ended up with a double when Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who needs an endorsement deal with Ray Ban, lost a pop-up in the sun.
The Giants had a 3-0 lead and the bases loaded after the Dodgers intentionally walked Joaquin Arias to bring Vogelsong to the plate.
Wouldn’t you know it? After Vogelsong didn’t get a single at-bat all spring, his first trip to the plate came with the bases full. And the guy who had two hits all season, and smashed his pinky finger while taking a swing last May, fought off a pitch to bloop a two-run single.
Angel Pagan singled to score Arias and cap the rally.
The Giants struck for more in the second inning after Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez got way too careless after fielding Posey’s routine grounder. He bounced his throw and Gonzalez couldn’t pick it, allowing Posey to reach. Hicks hit a booming RBI double over the head of center fielder Matt Kemp, and Arias followed with a run-scoring single.
It was an 8-0 lead at that point and the Dodgers were not having a shiny day. But at least it bodes well for them that they could get a starter KO’d after two innings and bring in a guy, Jose Dominguez, who can pump 98 mph gas.
In fact, the Giants didn’t get a hit in seven innings against the Dodgers bullpen. They drew one walk and struck out 10 times.
The Dodgers benched Yasiel Puig when he showed up late to the ballpark, so Kemp got a start on the day he came off the disabled list. Ramirez appeared to be mentally absent as well. In addition to his brutally uncaring throw in the second inning, he also got thrown out trying to steal with the Dodgers down four runs in the seventh.
Ramirez initially was called safe but the Giants challenged and received their first successful overturn of the season. Ramirez was out following a video review. To find out what he was thinking, though, a CT scan might have been more appropriate.
The Dodgers announced 53,493 paid, and despite the reputation of their fans, there weren’t many late arrivals. Other than Puig, of course.
The Giants and Dodgers continue their three-game series on Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Madison Bumgarner (0-0, 0.00 ERA) takes the mound against left-hander Paul Maholm, who will make his first start as a Dodger. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. PDT.