It's finally here San Francisco Giants fans, Opening Day 2012 has arrived. The Black and Orange look to get back to the second season after an injury plagued 2011, but will have to start their journey on the defending NL West Champions turf, taking on the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase field this weekend.
Friday will be the battle of the aces as two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum takes on Arizona's Ian Kennedy, coming off his best season in the big leagues. Kennedy was a strong Cy Young candidate after he posted a 21-4 record along with a 2.88 ERA in 2011, while forcing the Giants to watch them raise their NL West banner. Lincecum is back to his fighting weight in 2012, and ready to get some more W's after his 13-14 record in 2011 despite a 2.74 ERA.
Time: Friday, April 6, 4:10 p.m. PT
TV: CSN Bay Area/ ESPN 2
Saturday will have the matchup up Madison Bumgarner for San Francisco and Daniel Hudson for Arizona. Bumgarner was sharp all spring long, leading the Giants with 27 strikeouts, and has been itching to get on the mound after his lackluster first half in 2011 (4-9 record before All-Star break).
Time: Saturday, April 7, 1:05 p.m. PT
Sunday's finale will pair the $127 million dollar man Matt Cain for the Giants and Arizona's hatchet-tossing Josh Collmenter. Cain certainly won't want to disappoint after signing his big money deal, hopefully the Barry Zito syndrome will keep away from him now that he's signed for the big bucks.
Time: Sunday, April 8, 1:10 p.m. PT
TV: CSN Bay Area
Of course, all of these great Giants pitchers won't have a chance without any offensive production, which is why the Giants kept players like Hector Sanchez, Gregor Blanco and Brett Pill on their lineup . Newcomer Melky Cabrera had an outstanding spring (.343 BA, 4 HR, 12 RBI), while fellow newbie Angel Pagan struggled (.171 BA, 1 HR, 7 RBI). And then there's Brandon Belt, who finally looks like he'll get his first crack at some regular playing time.
But the big boys are Pablo Sandoval, trying to repeat his All-Star year of 2011, and of course Buster Posey, making his return from injury. If these guys can get locked in, this upgraded offense could make some noise.
As for the D-backs, their offense was noisy enough to make the playoffs last year, and manager Kirk Gibson is looking to keep his team on top of the totem poll this season. This could be the rivalry of the year in the NL West as the two duke it out in the desert to start the 2012 season.