MILWAUKEE -- Whenever a Giants performance evokes names such as Barry Bonds and Willie Mays, you know the team's offense is thriving.Such was the case on Monday, when the Giants' hitting reached historic proportions in a 12-3 Opening Day rout of the Milwaukee Brewers. Denard Span amassed five RBIs, three
MILWAUKEE -- Whenever a Giants performance evokes names such as Barry Bonds and Willie Mays, you know the team's offense is thriving.
Such was the case on Monday, when the Giants' hitting reached historic proportions in a 12-3 Opening Day rout of the Milwaukee Brewers. Denard Span amassed five RBIs, three of them on an eighth-inning home run that started a binge of three consecutive home runs off Milwaukee reliever Ariel Pena. Joe Panik and Buster Posey hit the next homers, making them the first team to accomplish this trifecta in a season opener since the 1997 San Diego Padres -- who happened to be managed by Bruce Bochy.
San Francisco hadn't collected back-to-back-to-back homers since July 20, 2006, when Bonds, Ray Durham and Pedro Feliz did it against San Diego.
"I didn't know my name was mentioned with Barry Bonds," Span said. "That's a first."
Span achieved another first by becoming the first Giant to drive in five runs in his regular-season debut with the club. The last Giant to accomplish that on Opening Day was, of course, Bonds on April 2, 2002, against the Dodgers.
Span ultimately eclipsed Matt Duffy, whose four RBIs initially sustained the Giants. Duffy complemented a two-run, second-inning single with a two-run homer in the fifth. The Giants' four homers represented their highest Opening Day total since they had five against the Braves on April 14, 1964, at Candlestick Park. Mays socked a pair.
The Giants' total of runs was their highest on Opening Day since they lost to San Diego, 16-13, in 1983.
"Not that we needed a reminder," Span said, "but it just shows us how good we can be."
Bonds and Mays would have approved of Span's effort. In each plate appearance that resulted in an RBI -- he also had a third-inning RBI single and a fifth-inning sacrifice fly -- he fell behind in the count, 0-2, before stubbornly prolonging his confrontation with each pitcher.
Span said when he gets two strikes on him, "it seems like that's when I get locked in. I kind of buckle down and simplify my swing a litle bit and I'm able to put a good swing on the ball."
Span, who joined the Giants as a free agent during the offseason by signing a three-year, $31 million contract, felt thankful for making a instant contribution.
"As a new player coming into a new clubhouse ... you kind of feel like you're part of the team once you help your new team win," he said. "I couldn't have asked for a better start."
The Giants couldn't have envisioned a better finish. Span began their fun in the eighth with two outs after Brandon Crawford walked and pinch-hitter Gregor Blanco singled. Span drove Pena's 3-2 pitch over the right-field barrier.
Brewers starter Wily Peralta, who surrendered five runs (four earned) and six hits in four innings, heaped praise upon Span, who spent 2013-15 with Washington after five years with Minnesota.
"What makes Span tough? He's a tough guy to strike out. He's a guy that puts the ball in play. That's why he's the leadoff [hitter]," Peralta said. "He's a guy that just tries to make contact. What he did to Pena, that was a great AB. It was an 0-2 count. He fouled off some really, really tough pitches. Me and Pena, he fouled off the pitches and got a good pitch to hit after that. We tried to go to the corner and missed up over the plate. That's what good hitters do. They foul tough pitches and finally get a mistake from us."
Then Panik, who went hitless in his previous four at-bats, found the right-field seats. Teammates were still congratulating him when Posey's first-pitch drive caromed off a railing in left-center field.
"I got to the dugout and, next thing you know, everybody's going nuts again," Panik said.
Panik, who hit eight homers last year before a back injury sidelined him in early August, and Duffy, who had 12, are contemplating renewing their friendly "tortoise versus the tortoise" competition in which they vie for the higher home run total. Both can feel confident that being surrounded by formidable teammates will give them plenty of pitches to mash.
"In this lineup, wherever you hit, you have guys who are hitting in front of you and behind you for protection," Panik said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.