The San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks both have something to prove as they meet for the second week in a row beginning Tuesday in the Giants' home opener at AT&T Park.
Tim Hudson will make his home debut after signing with the Giants this past offseason. Hudson called the Bay Area home for the first six seasons of his career, going 92-39 for the Oakland A's.
Launching a nine-game, 10-day homestand, the Giants need to revive the advantage they typically have enjoyed at AT&T. Their pedestrian 42-40 home record last season was their fourth-worst mark since they moved into the bayside ballpark. Only in 2005, 2008 (37-44 both seasons) and 2007 (39-42) were they worse at home.
Not coincidentally, San Francisco finished below .500 in all four of those seasons.
Building a 5-2 record during their season-opening trip to Arizona and Los Angeles buoyed the Giants' confidence and primed them for their AT&T Park opener.
"We're really excited to get home," right fielder Hunter Pence said.
Arizona lost three of four to the Giants at Chase Field last week. But the D-backs firmly believe that they could have won one, and possibly two, more games in the series with a little more luck. They lost the series opener by one run after squandering leads of 6-2 and 7-3. They absorbed their other defeats by two- and three-run margins.
Tuesday, they'll give the ball to Trevor Cahill, who pitched six respectable innings in the third game of last week's series but lost to Hudson, 2-0.
Cahill had an injury-plagued year in 2013 and also struggled with his mechanics and command. This spring, he showed improvement from a control standpoint, walking only six in 22 innings. But his command seemed to be off in his first couple starts of the season.
"I wish I had better command right now," Cahill said. "It's weird, because in Spring Training, I felt like my mechanics were better. I was throwing strikes, I didn't really walk guys, but I was getting hit around. Maybe because I was getting hit around, I figured I needed to be a little more fine. Maybe that's why I started walking guys again. But I'd rather take the feeling I had in spring than what I had last game, just because I felt like I could throw a strike when I had to. I felt my command was better then, even though I was getting hit."
Cahill is 2-1 with a 3.47 ERA in four starts at AT&T Park.
"It's definitely a pitcher's park," Cahill said of the Giants' home. "But a lot of it has to do with what you feel comfortable with -- the mound, the backdrop."
D-backs: Fourth time the charm?
This will be the fourth time the D-backs have taken part in Opening Day ceremonies this season.
They had an Opening Day in Sydney, Australia, they had their home opener last Monday against the Giants, and they also served as the opponent in the Rockies' opener Friday.
The D-backs have lost all three of the openers to this point, and they hope the fourth time will yield different results.
"It disrupts your routine a little bit, just because you've got to do all the on-field stuff, everything is a little earlier and there's more media, but that's part of it," second baseman Aaron Hill said of the pomp and circumstance that comes with Opening Days. "Once that first pitch is thrown, it's no different than any other game."
Giants: Hudson struggles in rematches
Hudson, who blanked Arizona for 7 2/3 innings last Wednesday, has endured mixed success when he faces the same team in back-to-back starts.
Hudson has pitched 15 "rematch" games in his career, posting a 6-7 record with a 5.70 ERA in those instances.
Hudson threw such an assortment of split-fingered fastballs, cut fastballs and sinking fastballs that he might have room for more variety if he mixes up his sequences even slightly Tuesday.
• Giants center fielder Angel Pagan lengthened his season-long hitting streak to seven games (13-for-31, .407). He has driven in at least one run in five games.
• You'd figure that Pence would hit his first home run of the season at Dodger Stadium, which he did Sunday. Since the start of the 2013 season, the Giants' right fielder is hitting .346 (18-for-52) with two doubles, seven homers and 14 RBIs in 13 games at Chavez Ravine.
• Giants first baseman Brandon Belt has hit safely in six of seven games.