SAN FRANCISCO -- Nobody does a ceremony better than the Giants, and they certainly crushed just about every aspect of their home opener Friday afternoon.
The pre-game and in-game tributes to Willie McCovey, Peter Magowan and Hank Greenwald were wonderful. McCovey's family was handed first base by Brandon Belt. Mike Krukow read an emotional letter from Magowan.
Then there was the celebration of Bruce Bochy, who announced in February that this will be his final season. The fans plan to send him off in a way that matches all Bochy has done for them, and he received a 90-second standing ovation as players and staff members were introduced. Bochy's players then gathered behind the mound.
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With a big smile on his face, the manager stepped onto the dirt to throw the ceremonial first pitch to Pablo Sandoval, one of his all-time favorite Giants.
And then the game started.
They lost 5-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays, and trailed 4-0 just 10 minutes in. After falling to 2-6 on the season, this loss seemed particularly representative of what this season seems to be becoming.
San Francisco Giants
The Bochy goodbye will be emotional, and Friday’s festivities were just the start of a year-long celebration of the probable Hall-of-Famer. But this does not look like a roster that will send him out on a high.
The Giants have scored more than three runs just twice in seven games, so when Dereck Rodriguez gave up two doubles and two homers with two outs in the first, the buzz was taken out of the day. The lineup has made a habit of trying to stage comebacks late, but fighting back against good late-innings arms is no way to go through life.
“We saw (the same issue) last year. I wish I had a better answer for you,” Bochy said. “We’re trying to get things going early.”
Bochy has already met with his hitters to discuss the importance of taking some pressure off the starting staff, but eight days into the season, the lineup still has not scored a run before the fourth inning.
"We'd love to jump out to a lead every game," Buster Posey said. "It's not too many games played yet, so hopefully we can turn that around."
To their credit, the hitters have shown plenty of fight late in games. They loaded the bases in the eighth, but Gerardo Parra struck out and Kevin Pillar hit into a double play. They put two on to start the ninth, but again could not score.
That had Bochy breaking down a familiar loss after his final home opener. The Giants fell behind early, but on this day, at least the manager could look back fondly on what happened before that.
"It was really emotional," he said of the tributes. "That's overwhelming what happened there. That's something I'll never forget. It was a really special moment. I had a lot of family here, and that blew me away."