Hudson, Morse Endear Themselves to the Home Crowd, Giants Win Opener

The Giants continued to flex their offensive muscles on a warm day at AT&T Park, defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-2.

Tim Hudson got his second win in as many games for the orange and black as San Francisco won their home opener, sending 42,166 fans home happy, and remaining atop the National League West.

Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt continued to power the Giants offense, going a combined four-for-seven and getting the scoring started. Pagan led off the bottom of the first with a walk before Belt crushed his National League-leading fifth home run of the young season to deep right-center field.

The Diamondbacks got one of those runs back, however, in the next inning. Martin Prado led off with a single, and Miguel Montero was hit by a pitch. Hudson got Mark Trumbo to hit a double-play ground ball, but Brandon Hicks’ wide throw to first allowed Trumbo to reach safely and Prado to score an unearned run.

Hudson gave up his first earned run of the 2014 season in the fourth inning when Paul Goldschmidt led off with a double, moved to third on a single by Prado, and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Montero. The Diamondbacks added one more run off of the right-hander in the eighth when pinch-hitter Tony Campana led off with a triple and scored on a groundout by Gerardo Parra.

Hudson was once again incredibly efficient, tossing eight innings on 101 pitches, allowing just two earned runs, striking out four, and walking none. In his two starts, he has an ERA of 1.15 and hasn’t walked a batter. Despite the strong starts, Hudson is quick to credit other things for his success.

“I’ve had some nice weather to pitch it. Hopefully, this is something I can still build from. I came into Spring Training trying to get game ready, and I still feel like I’m not quite where I wanna be yet, but definitely I’ll take these first two starts. It’s been a fun outing out there, the guys have really played some good baseball behind me. Hopefully, it can keep getting better from here.”

The San Francisco bats provided more than enough run support to get Hudson his first win at AT&T Park. Once again, Pagan and Belt got the rally started, this time in the third. Pagan led off with a double, and Belt followed it up with a single. After eight games this season, they’re batting .441 and .343, respectively. After all of his offensive struggles over the past two seasons, Belt is happy to be contributing early and often in 2014.

“It doesn’t suck to start off the season pretty good,” he says with a smile. “I think I’ve struggled enough that I’ve figured some stuff out, and I just want to keep it going….being more balanced helps a lot, knowing what pitches I can’t hit, knowing what I do well at the plate.”

Buster Posey joined the fun with an RBI single up the middle before Hunter Pence grounded into a fielder’s choice and stole second. Michael Morse endeared himself to the home crowd by slapping a two-RBI single to right and making it 5-2 Giants.

The two-out hits would keep on coming for San Francisco in the fifth, as Pence worked a two-out walk, Morse hit a ground rule double, and Brandon Crawford smacked his second single of the day into right, making it 7-2.

For a team that struggled so much offensively in 2013, hitting just .260 as a team and ranking second-to-last in home runs with 107, the start of this season couldn’t be any different. They lead the league with 13 home runs and have scored 32 of their 47 run with two outs. What’s been the difference?

“This offense has more length to it,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I think you put Morse in the lineup and it stretches it out even more than it did. More power. We have a healthy Pagan, who’s doing a great job…The fact that we have a left fielder who can hit the ball out of the ballpark…It’s early. Last year it was similar. We swung the bats very well early, and then in the second half we had our struggles offensively. That’s what we want to stay away from. The best way to stay away from it is to stay away from the injuries.”

The Giants will hope to stay healthy and send Tim Lincecum to the mound on Wednesday night to take on Bronson Arroyo at 7:15.