After his Opening Day loss to the Dodgers in Australia, Diamondbacks’ lefty Wade Miley talked about the small window for making mistakes.
In the opener, Miley delivered two errors to Scott Van Slyke, who doubled in the second to create the Dodgers’ first run and then delivered a two-run shot for the game-winner in the fourth inning.
Miley’s sense of history was revisited Tuesday night against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field. A “mistake” to first baseman Brandon Belt evolved into a difficult moment but eventually, Miley and the Diamondbacks managed to squeeze out a 5-4 victory over San Francisco before 18,974.
The mistake was a three run homer by Belt, his second in as many games to open the season. To his credit, Miley recovered from the Belt belt and pitched well enough to gain his first win of the season.
“It’s mental,” was Miley explanation for the opening frame malady. “In the first inning, I was nibbling, trying to make the perfect pitch. Then, the offense came through. When that happens, it makes you feel good.”
After giving up four in the first inning, Miley settled down and pitched nearly air-tight baseball. Following Belt’s home run, Miley retired the next 15 hitters in a row before walking catcher Buster Posey with two in the sixth.
“After that slow start, he started to trust in himself and let it go,” said manager Kirk Gibson. “In the seventh, he was really tested.”
That’s when Miley pitched out of a critical jam.
With runners on second a third with one out, he caught Juan Perez looking at a third strike and Angel Pagan ended the inning by popping out to Aaron Hill at second base.
“Over the past few years, (Miley) is as good as we have getting out of those jams,” Gibson added. “From that first inning, he had a strong conviction and that’s what carried him through the game."
In his two starts this season, Miley has pitched creditable baseball but numbers do not reflect his effort. In 12 innings to date, he had allowed seven earned runs and that equates to a 5.25 ERA. Eliminating “mistakes” would push Miley into another zone but he needs to develop a consciousness of eliminating costly blunders early in games.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks chipped away at Matt Cain, the Giants starter, and broke into the lead against reliever Juan Gutierrez. Down 4-3 in the sixth, the Diamondbacks pushed two runs across and made the lead hold.
First, Chris Owings singled with one out, stole second and scored on a double from Pollock. Gerardo Parra knocked in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to score Pollock.
After an 0-13 start in the first three games, Pollock came through with 3-for-4 night, scored twice and knocked in his first run of the season. From a .000 batting average to .176 after four games, Pollock raised his average nearly 200 points Tuesday night.
“No, I was not concerned with the start but the numbers are magnified because it’s early in the season,” Pollock said. “Look, it’s baseball and there will be ups and downs.”
For the second game in a row, the Diamondbacks reached double digits in hits.
On Tuesday, they collected 11 and Pollock lead with his three. That was followed with two-hit games from Paul Goldschmidt, Owings and Parra.
When Goldschmidt doubled in the first, that extended his hitting streak to 23 games over parts of two seasons. That places Goldschmidt one game behind Tony Womack for second place in franchise history.
LEFTOVERS FROM OPENING NIGHT
Along with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Diamondbacks are one of two teams to open the season in two countries.
While Major League baseball experimented with championship games in Japan, Mexico and South Korea, the movers and shakers of The Game rolled the dice and attempted to brand its product in Australia.
While the two games between the D-backs and Dodgers drew a total of 76,345 and sellouts for both contests, the atmosphere and environment was decidedly different than the United States opener Monday night.
When the D-backs opened the home portion of their schedule against the San Francisco Giants, the air around Chase Field was electric.
As they walked to the ball park, ans poured out of the Light Rail, laughed, cheered and talked “baseball." The plaza outside the main entrance blared with live music and fans congregated in large numbers to soak up the surroundings.
“You could feel the energy and it was a good feeling,” said manager Kirk Gibson before Tuesday’s game with the Giants. “The fans were into it and there as a lot to cheer.”
A familiar feeling enveloped the ball park and America’s game, with openers around the country, swept all else off the sports pages of newspapers and sports slots of web sites.
Compare that to the subdued nature of opening the season in Australia.
While both games in Sydney generated sell-outs, baseball seemed as foreign to Australians as cricket is to Americans.
No live bands outside of the Sydney Cricket Ground, no corner or neighborhood watering holes, no congregation of fans and a distinct, Australian accent prevailed among the majority of ticket-holders.
While Major League baseball experimented with branding its product in a potential new market, the atmosphere was not the same as any American stadium. Plus, there is no “history” of baseball in Australia, only isolated bits and uneven stories.
As noble as the introduction of Major League baseball to Australia, baseball belongs in venues with history and support. Latin America, Japan, Korea and to some extent Canada maintain stronger ties to the game than Australia.
On Wednesday night, the Diamondbacks face right-hander Tim Hudson for the first time in a Giants uniform.
Hudson signed a two-year, $23 million deal in the off-season.
At 38 years old, Hudson is coming off an 8-7 season with Atlanta and a 3.97 ERA. In 427 career starts between Oakland and the Braves, Hudson owns a 205-111 record with a 3.44 ERA.
“He is a professional and a surprising good athlete,” said Bruce Bochy, the Giants manager. “I like what I’ve seen of him so far. You want guys to go deep into game and he has a history of that. I’m happy to have him.”
Elsewhere… Bochy said catcher Buster Posey will have Thursday afternoon off in the series finale with the Diamondbacks. That means Hector Sanchez will handle Tim Lincecum’s first start of the season.
Posey’s game-winning home run Monday night traveled 453 feet, and, according to ESPN’s home run tracker, that was the longest bomb of Posey‘s career. His previous longest was 443 feet against Houston at AT&T Park on July 13, 2012 against Houston.