The Arizona Diamondbacks have the target on their backs after taking the NL West crown in 2011, but the San Francisco Giants are hungry to get back to the playoffs, knowing they'll likely have to go through Phoenix to get where they want to go. So what a better place to kick of their 2012 seasons than with an old fashioned pitcher's duel at Chase field between Tim Lincecum and Ian Kennedy.
Lincecum and Kennedy had polar opposite numbers against each other's squad last season, with Kennedy going 3-0 with a 1.22 ERA in five starts against the Black and Orange, while Timmy suffered thorough a 0-3 record and a 4.32 ERA in four starts, inlcuding his September 23 start in Arizona in which the D-backs clinched the NL West title.
This could very well be the rivalry of the season in the NL West, and skipper Bruce Bochy knows it.
"To start with them, that is going to create some interest, really, for both clubs," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "We think we're a better club, an improved club, and they are, too."
Buster Posey is set to make his long awaited return, having no setbacks in the spring to his surgically repaired ankle. He and Pablo Sandoval will hopefully be the brunt of the Giants offense this season, but they've got some extra help this season. It will also be the first look of the younger, more offensive Giants, who now have bats like Melky Cabrera, Brandon Belt and Hector Sanchez, as well as improved speed with Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco to get run support their pitching so desperately needs.
The Diamondbacks don't have to look far for offense as the duo of Chris Young and Justin Upton along with guys like Miguel Montero, Paul Goldschmidt and Ryan Roberts will fuel the D-backs offense, that likely will be jacked up after hanging their 2011 NL West banner. Along with their improved pitching, the Giants are going to have their hands full Friday, and for the rest of the season with this D-backs squad.
Fun fact: These two have been in the same division since 1998, but this is the first time Arizona opened a season against San Francisco.
First pitch is set for 4:10 p.m. with TV coverage on ESPN2, CSN Bay Area and Fox Sports Arizona. Radio coverage can be found on KNBR 680 and KTAR 620 in Arizona.