For the first time in 75 years, a team has started the season with back-to-back 1-0 wins. That team: the San Francisco Giants.
Friday night the Giants notched another 1-0 win (box score) over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, thanks again to Joe Panik. Panik hit a ninth-inning solo home run against Kenley Jansen. He hit a solo homer against Clayton Kershaw on Opening Day. So basically the best starter in the world and the best closer in the world. That's who Panik has taken deep the last two days.
Here's video of Friday's game winner:
The Giants are the first team to start their season with back-to-back 1-0 wins since the 1943 Cincinnati Reds. The '43 Reds followed their back-to-back 1-0 wins with a 2-1 loss and a 1-0 loss. Not many high-scoring games early that season, I guess.
Anyway, as for the Giants, Friday's win was made possible by Johnny Cueto, who was masterful while flirting with a perfect game. He retired the first 18 batters he faced before Chris Taylor flared a leadoff single to center in the seventh to end the perfect game bid. Two pitches later, Cueto coaxed a ground-ball double play from Corey Seager to end the threat. His final pitching line:
As for the Dodgers, they are still looking for their first run and their first extra-base hit of 2018. The Giants have held them to seven singles -- two by Kershaw, it should be noted -- and five walks in 18 offensive innings so far. The Dodgers have 12 baserunners and four errors (three by Logan Forsythe on Friday) through two games, which seems like a bad ratio.
Eventually the Dodgers will score a run. Probably lots of runs. The bigger concern right might be Jansen's missing velocity. His trademark cutter, which averaged 93.6 mph and topped out at 97.7 mph last year, sat at 89.3 mph and topped out at 90.2 mph on Friday. Hmmm. For what it's worth, Kenley's cutter averaged 94.6 mph and topped out at 96.7 mph in his first appearance last year. He didn't necessarily start slow and gradually build velocity. It was there from the get-go in 2017.
Personally, I think it's a little too early for a velocity freak out. Jansen and the Dodgers made a deep postseason run last year, which means a big workload and a lot of intense innings, and a shorter offseason to recover. He might need some more time to get up to full speed this year. Now, if Jansen is still sitting 88-90 mph in June and July, it'll be a problem. For now I think it's just a thing to watch.
Here's what Jansen and manager Dave Roberts had to say after the game:
Dave Roberts indicated a mechanical issue was at fault for Kenley Jansen’s diminished velocity tonight. Jansen said that was not the case. Told his cutter clocked in at 89 mph, Jansen repeatedly asked, “Who cares?”— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) March 31, 2018
Two games and two 1-0 wins for the Giants so far this season, both on Panik homers. San Francisco is still looking for their offense to break out as well. At least they have two runs through two games. That's two more than the Dodgers.