Pitches were thrown, balls were struck, things happened, but the Giants' first exhibition game officially began in the fourth inning at Scottsdale Stadium on Saturday after Angel Pagan bounced a single to right.
This is a man who doesn't so much run the bases as he prowls them, like a leopard. The batter was Marco Scutaro, and suddenly the essence of a world championship team came to life: The first baseman trying to hold Pagan close to the bag. The second baseman shading toward the middle, wary of a stolen base. A massive hole in the right side of the infield, beckoning Scutaro's off-field stroke like a magnet.
Nobody really knew who the Giants were playing. It said "Angels" on the schedule, but this was a bunch of minor-leaguers - not a star or even a regular in the bunch. It hardly mattered. Giants baseball isn't about an otherworldly event in the hands of Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton or Mike Trout. It's about Pagan and Scutaro in subtle, sublime concert.
Pagan did steal second, easily, and then Scutaro waved his magic wand, guiding a groundball to second that advanced his man to third. Pablo Sandoval stepped in, complete with his cleat-tapping, bat-scrawling ritual, ready to hit any pitch as long as it arrived between the dirt and maybe six inches above the helmet. It happened to be a fastball around chin-high, and he hammered a run-scoring single.
"Right where we left off," manager Bruce Bochy said with a smile.
That, as we've come to know, is how Giants ballgames are won.