What can mere mortal men do when Clayton Kershaw is on his game on Opening Day?
Not very much, as the San Francisco Giants will have no problem telling you. Although team ace Matt Cain tried valiantly to make it a pitcher’s duel throughout the game, neither he nor the defending World Series champ could outlast the ace from the divisional rival Los Angeles Dodgers as the Giants’ road to defend their title got off to a losing start in L.A.
There can be positives to be found even in these types of defeats, though, and there was perhaps no bigger positive for San Francisco on Monday than third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
Yes, that works both literally and figuratively, I suppose.
Still, that isn’t to simply poke fun at Sandoval’s figure — his weight issues have been ongoing for years, and it is directly tied to his long-term ability to take the field and do what he does. Considering that he’s been no stranger to health issues, and that a setback to an elbow injury made him questionable for the team’s Opening Day game, that the No. 3 hitter even took the field could be called a minor victory.
It’s what hit bat does in the lineup that really counts, though, and Sandoval showed why he’s arguably the team’s best pure hitter on Monday, Kershaw or no Kershaw.
Of the team’s meager four hits against the Dodgers’ lefty, Sandoval had two of them, sharing the entirety of the Giants’ offensive output with leadoff man Angel Pagan. No, it wasn’t enough to buy the team a run, and it doesn’t exactly redeem the loss but it did show that Sandoval’s elbow was enough to pass the Kershaw test.
For a Giants team that will be relying on the third baseman as one of the key cogs on offense all season long, that’s about as significant a positive sign as they’ll find considering that … well, they were just dominated for nine straight innings.