Giants rekindle road magic to open season
Bochy's bunch also excelled away from home in championship years
LOS ANGELES -- They aren't exactly known for their wild ways, but the Giants are becoming a modern-day version of Jack Kerouac and his old San Francisco beat buddies. "On The Road" is their kind of text.
Over the long haul, success on the road "can make your season," Giants manager Bruce Bochy maintained.
He should know.
The Giants will be heading to San Francisco for Tuesday's home opener against the D-backs in the afterglow of a season-opening road saga that could not have gone much better, regardless of what happens in Sunday night's finale at Dodger Stadium.
Victories in five of their first six road tests have returned that familiar glow to Bochy's troupe following a disappointing 2013.
"We're playing well," said Buster Posey, who homered and singled in Saturday's 7-2 drubbing of the Dodgers and is batting .381. "The main thing is to continue to go day to day, focus on the game each day. I think guys enjoy the challenge [on the road]. It's about taking care of business, knowing we have a job to do."
The Giants' recent history speaks volumes on thriving in hostile environs.
In 2010, on the way to the first World Series championship celebrated by San Franciscans, the Giants were 43-38 away from AT&T Park in winning the National League West.
After going 2-0 in Atlanta in taking the NL Division Series and 2-1 in Philadelphia in the Championship Series, the Giants finished off the Rangers in the World Series by taking the final two games in Texas. The champs were 6-2 on the road in postseason play.
In 2012, en route to another parade route through the city by the bay, the Giants were an even better 46-35 on the road. They rolled into the postseason with 94 victories, and in October they showed their true road-warrior colors.
Swept at home in the first two games of the NLDS by the Reds, the Giants alighted in Cincinnati and claimed three in a row. Facing St. Louis in the NLCS, Bochy's guys fell behind 3-1 and roared back to nail down three in a row, starting with a pivotal Game 5 in St. Louis.
Moving on to the World Series, the Giants finished off a sweep of the Tigers by taking Games 3 and 4 in the Motor City. For the three series, San Francisco was once again 6-2 on enemy turf.
Here we are, another distressing odd-numbered season behind them, and the Giants appear to have rediscovered their swagger.
They gave Dodgers faithful more blues in the middle game of the series, knocking three balls out of sight in front of 49,520.
Michael Morse, the towering newcomer, started the home run party in the fourth inning. Old hands Pablo Sandoval and Posey went back-to-back during a four-run fifth.
Posey, the 2012 NL Most Valuable Player, is the poster boy for the Giants' road triumphs. No surprise there.
Over his five-plus seasons, the invaluable catcher has done far more damage in opponents' parks than in his own. Not that you'll have any luck getting this guy to discuss his own exploits.
"I just try to stay with my approach -- hit the ball everywhere," he said.
Posey, who powers some of his deepest drives to the middle of the field, loses potential home runs and RBIs in his spacious home yard. But the understated gentleman from Georgia and Florida State University gets very loud with his bat around folks wearing the other team's colors.
Posey has 41 career homers on the road, 22 in the place he calls home. He has 156 road RBIs, 111 at home. His .323 road batting average and .528 slugging mark are vastly superior to his .292 and .445 home numbers, respectively.
Told of the wide disparity in his home vs. road splits, he shrugged.
"It's 430 to right-center when the fog rolls in," he said, quickly catching himself and adding, "but I don't like to talk about that. What are you going to do?"
Sandoval, in contrast, hits .317 and slugs .500 at AT&T Park and slides to .278 and .451 on the road. He has 48 homers, 198 RBIs on the road compared to 43 homers, 195 RBIs at home.
Road conditions, Bochy said, are "something you have to be aware of as a team. Sometimes teams drop their guard on the road. They don't have their fans' support. You have to be aware of how tough it is on the road. Ultimately, it comes down to pitching."
Madison Bumgarner, already among the game's best lefties, held the Dodgers to two runs across 6 1/3 innings on Saturday while the Giants were banging Paul Maholm for five runs in 4 1/3 innings.
Artful Tim Hudson already has given strong indications the Giants made a wise free-agent investment, joining Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong in a proven rotation.
At the back end of a deep bullpen, Sergio Romo brings his slider and a toughness that characterizes this team.
"I don't think we change anything on the road," Romo said. "We have our sold-out crowd at home, but I feel we have good support when we go on the road. I see a lot of orange and black wherever we go.
"We stick with our plan. We know who we are. We have an identity. We're a gritty, grinding team. It's just our style of baseball."