Time to Panik, not panic — Blach, Giants beat Kershaw on Opening Day

Joe Panik, Clayton Kershaw, Yasmani Grandal, Mark Wegner

If you had the San Francisco Giants beating Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers 1-0 on Opening Day on a Joe Panik home run, collect your prize.

That’s how it all shook out Thursday at Chavez Ravine, as the Giants won their first Opening Day game in Dodger Stadium since 2002.

The outlook Thursday was not so bright when, after we knew Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija would start the season the disabled list, the Giants announced that closer Mark Melancon would be joining them on the DL with a flexor strain.

But Blach, who has been outstanding in his starts against the Dodgers, matched Kershaw 0 for 0 through the first four innings.

In the fifth inning, Panik turned on an inside pitch and drove it just inside the right-field foul pole.

From watching on ESPN, it looked like the ball might be foul, from how the camera angle was showing it.

But it stayed fair, and the Giants led 1-0. Blach kept the lead 1-0 after five innings. He gave up three hits, three walks while striking out three. He left after 80 pitches because he hadn’t thrown more than 60 during the spring.

Before the Giants’ run of pitching injuries, Giants manager Bruce Bochy told Blach he’d be starting in the bullpen and make his first start on April 10, when the Giants first needed a fifth starter.

That’s why Blach got the early hook. Then the Giants turned it over to the bullpen.

Four relievers — Josh Osich, Cody Gearrin, Tony Watson and Hunter Strickland — kept the shutout intact.

Osich was outstanding. Gearrin dodged around a couple of singles. Watson was outstanding. Strickland worked around a leadoff single by Matt Kemp to notch his first save since being proclaimed the closer in Melancon’s absence.

It was the Giants’ first Opening Day win by shutout since beating the Pirates 8-0 in 1994. John Burkett started that game. It was the first Opening Day shutout win against the Dodgers since 1958, the first major-league game played on the West Coast. The Giants also won that one 8-0.

Last year, the Giants went 0-23 when scoring just one run. This year, they are 1-0.

Last year, the Giants never spent a day above .500. This year, they’ve spent one.

Last year, the Giants never spent a day in first place. They are there today.

Who know what the future holds for the Giants, given so many uncertainties. But at least for one day, 2018 is going just fine.

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