AT&T Park rang with the sounds of baseball Monday, lending to a festive mood that lasted less than an inning before it was subdued by what Giants manager Bruce Bochy termed “one of the worst sounds you can hear in baseball.”
That was the smack of a 94 mph Taijuan Walker fastball striking catcher Buster Posey on the side of the helmet, sending Posey to the ground and ultimately out of the game.
Matt Moore restored some of the joy to the Giants’ home opener, throwing eight sterling innings and, with a swing of his bat, sparking a comical play that led to three Giants runs. After a 4-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, his teammates and Bochy were cautiously optimistic about Posey.
“He’s doing OK, he’s fine right now,” Bochy said, adding that Posey reported not feeling any concussion symptoms. “We’ll continue to keep an eye on him.”
Posey dropped into a sitting position after being hit in the bottom of the first, and stayed down while trainer Dave Groeschner sprinted to him, but left the field on his own power. Bochy said Posey might have been able to stay in the game if he played another position, but the Giants did not want to risk him taking a foul tip off the mask later in the game.
Teammates who checked on Posey throughout the game said he assured them he felt OK.
“He seemed fine,” shortstop Brandon Crawford said. “Which is good news. But the bad news is Joe thought he felt fine last year. So you don’t really know with these things.”
Crawford was referring to Joe Panik, who experienced delayed concussion symptoms after being hit by a pitch in the head and ended up missing nearly a month. The Giants sounded hopeful Monday that Posey would miss minimal time, with Bochy saying they did not have plans to bring up another catcher from the River Cats.
Moore helped salvage the day by holding the Diamondbacks to three hits in eight innings and, in the game’s oddest moment, cleared the bases while batting in the fourth with a swinging bunt that traveled about 40 feet.
Walker fielded Moore’s dribbler to the first-base side of the mound and made an errant throw to the plate as Crawford scored. Panik then sprinted home as catcher Jeff Mathis tracked down the ball and threw to Walker covering the plate. When Walker couldn’t handle that throw, Jarrett Parker, who had started the play on first base, raced home on the second error.
“That was fun,” said Parker, who pumped a fist as he emerged from his head-first slide. “I enjoyed it. I got fired up there.”
Bochy joked it was an instance of the “RTIs – runs thrown in,” that helped the Giants often in the 2014 playoffs. It gave Moore all the support he needed, though the Giants tacked on another run in the seventh on Crawford’s sacrifice fly deep into Triples Alley.
Moore, working with backup catcher Nick Hundley, needed just 93 pitches to complete eight innings. He did not walk a batter but did bean David Peralta in the eighth inning. Moore denied it was in retaliation for Posey.
In the last game the Giants played at home, Moore allowed one run in eight innings and departed with a three-run lead. That was Game 4 of last year’s National League Division Series in which the Giants’ bullpen blew the lead in a season-ending loss to the Chicago Cubs.
On Monday, Bochy had the option of bringing closer Mark Melancon in from the bullpen and did not hesitate despite Moore’s pitch count.
“We got Mark here to help out and take a load off these starters in that situation,” Bochy said. “Could I have sent (Moore) back out there? Yeah, I could’ve. But that’s the luxury of having one of the elite closers in the game.”
Melancon allowed a leadoff double to Chris Owings but retired the heart of the Arizona lineup in order as the Giants won consecutive games for the first time in 2017. And they could celebrate a little easier amid indications their star catcher was no worse for a scare.
“Talking to him after, he said, ‘I feel fine,’ ” Moore said. “Checked on him a couple times throughout the game and he said it was staying the same.
“Obviously it’s a scary moment. I’m sure they’re going to take every caution to make sure he’s 100 percent.”