Alex Wood worth waiting for in Giants debut to avoid Marlins sweep

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Dalton Johnson
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Wood proves he's worth the wait in impressive Giants debut originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

This is why Farhan Zaidi kept trying to get Alex Wood to San Francisco. The veteran lefty made his Giants debut Sunday, earning the win in a 1-0 road victory over the Miami Marlins

He was worth the wait. 

Wood threw five scoreless innings, allowing only three hits. He didn't issue a single walk and struck out four batters, five days after proving to the Giants he was healthy enough to toe the rubber again in a big league game after spending time at the team's alternate site in Sacramento. 

"What Wood does very well is he's funky, unorthodox, works fast, pounds the strike zone and executes with three pitches," manager Gabe Kapler said in a video conference after the game. "He was able to do that effectively today, and keep those right-handed bangers off balance -- really difficult to do. 

"Nice first outing for him." 

Wood needed just 61 pitches to get the job done for the Giants. Kapler pulled him when it was his spot in the lineup and the bases were loaded with two outs in the top of the sixth inning. Wilmer Flores came to the plate for Wood but flew out to end the inning. 

The Giants began the season without Wood on the Opening Day roster after he had an ablation procedure on his tight back. He struck out five batters over four innings in his final start at the alternate site, and looked right at home his first time wearing a Giants hat in a regular-season game. 

"I felt really good," Wood said. "Through my rehab starts, my bullpens, everything, I really felt like I've been throwing the ball well. Commanded the ball to both sides of the plate ... I thought my slider was really good today. It was a good start. This was my first time going five innings -- this is really my third real game that I've thrown in as far as rehab to back in the big leagues -- and I felt great about it. 

"Anytime there's zeroes on the board, no matter how you get there, that's always a positive and the bullpen locked it down. It was great day, good to get out of here with a win and hopefully take some of this momentum into Philly."

While Wood did exactly what the Giants asked of him, he was quick to credit others for the win. Tommy La Stella and Alex Dickerson both turned what could have been disastrous defensive plays into huge outs, and Austin Slater put on his Superman cape for a highlight diving catch in the bottom of the third inning. 

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Catcher Curt Casali played the role of Wood's best friend behind the dish, and Wood couldn't help but praise all of the Giants' catchers for helping from spring training to the alternate site and all the way to Sunday in Miami. 

"I think our catchers from Buster [Posey] to Curt on down, to [Chadwick Tromp] to [Ricardo Genoves], Joey [Bart] ... all those guys, they really set the tone in camp about how much they care about preparation and knowing what our staff really likes to do individually and controlling the game," Wood said. "I thought Curt did a great job today."

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After winning a World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, Wood's free-agent decision came down to returning to the Dodgers, where he has spent parts of five seasons, or joining the Giants. He chose the Giants, who signed him to a one-year, $3 million contract in January. 

Zaidi, the Giants' president of baseball operations, has history with Wood dating back to their days with the Dodgers together. He tried to sign Wood to the Giants in the previous offseason, but came up short. This year, he finally reconnected with the former All-Star. 

Wood was the worth the wait with a big win to avoid a sweep from the Marlins, proving again patience is a virtue with Zaidi when he has his sights set on someone.

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