Giants' quest to make NL West three-team race begins now

Evan Longoria Fernando Tatis Jr.

There aren't too many conclusions you can make after three games in a 162-game season. Still, the Giants losing their season-opening series to the Seattle Mariners did spark some ugly memories from a year ago. 

The bullpen blowing a game? Yeah, that happened on Opening Day. The offense going cold? That was the story Saturday when the Giants failed to score a run in a 4-0 loss to end their trip at T-Mobile Park. 

Kevin Gausman did look like an ace in Game 1 while veterans Buster Posey and Evan Longoria provided the Giants with power bats, which is a huge positive. But the real test starts Monday. 

All offseason, the Giants heard just how great the San Diego Padres are. Fernando Tatis Jr. became the new face of baseball, and stories left and right were written how the Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers are building the next great rivalry right now. The Giants once again are embracing their underdog role, but on Monday night in San Diego, they finally can prove if they can compete with the NL West's newest powerhouse or not. 

The Padres won three of their first four games of the season against the Arizona Diamondbacks, despite Tatis batting just .188 and making five errors in four games. He isn't the only Padre who started off slow, either. Manny Machado is hitting .214 and Yu Darvish allowed four earned runs over 4 2/3 innings in his San Diego debut. That's how deep and talented this squad is, though. 


All of that doesn't concern the Giants. At least, that's what they say on the outside. 

"We're aware of expectations and we understand how people around the league view the National League West -- it's totally understandable," manager Gabe Kapler said on the first day of camp this spring training. "Our job is to set high expectations for ourselves and then do everything we can in our workouts and our practices and our work getting ready for the season to exceed those expectations."

While the Padres added big-time names over the offseason, the Giants stuck to their plan and made a handful of smart signings to help them compete this season and keep their top prospects for the future. The first two games of the Giants' three-game series at Petco Park will put two of those signings to the test. Anthony DeSclafani will make his Giants debut Monday night before Kapler turns to Aaron Sanchez on Tuesday night. 

On the other side, San Diego is finishing series with two of the biggest acquisitions in all of baseball over the offseason: Darvish, a right-hander, and Blake Snell, a nasty lefty. Both of the Giants' platoon lineups will be tested against two of the best pitchers in the game. 

Will Mike Yastrzemski get out of his 1-for-13 slump? What about Brandon Belt, who barely played this spring and is just 1-for-7 so far? Can Posey and Longoria provide more power? 

The lineup will be tested just as much as DeSclafani, Sanchez and Gausman, who will start the final game of the series. And then there's the bullpen, which might face the tallest task with how deep the Padres' lineup is. The game truly isn't over for San Diego until the final out, which the Padres proved with a comeback win on Opening Day.

The Dodgers and Padres both have superstars locked up for the long-term, looking to battle for Best of the West for years to come. The Giants hope to make that a three-way race every season, with a handful of top prospects on the way and money to spend after this season. But Step 1 starts Monday night. 

RELATED: Giants couldn't carry over two strengths they saw all spring

Giants fans know there's a light at the end of the tunnel. They know the focus is the future right now. That doesn't mean the Giants are playing the waiting game. They want to compete and made the moves to do so. Let's see just how serious they are. 

The first of many tests is about to take place, and it won't be an easy one. 

Download and subscribe to the Giants Talk Podcast