It's an old baseball adage that momentum is only as good as your next day's starter. In that case, the rest of San Jose's pitching staff has some pretty big shoes to fill.
Clayton Tanner allowed a run on seven hits with nine strikeouts over seven innings Thursday as the visiting Giants edged the High Desert Mavericks, 2-1, in the opener of the California League Finals.
"It's huge," Tanner said of taking Game 1 at Mavericks Stadium. "We have home-field advantage [in the best-of-5 series], but sometimes it doesn't matter. Coming in here, we wanted to take this one, and hopefully take one in [Game 2]."
Tanner (2-0), San Francisco's third-round pick in the 2006 Draft, relied heavily on his off-speed stuff to keep High Desert's high-powered offense baffled all night.
The 21-year-old left-hander retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced before surrendering back-to-back singles and Alex Liddi's RBI double in the fourth.
"Going in to left-handed batters, I knew I had to throw a lot of sliders," Tanner said. "It was working pretty well. I made a couple mistakes, which were some of the hits, but for the most part I kept the ball down."
Tanner outdueled High Desert starter Steve Hensley (1-1), who allowed two runs on six hits, including a pair of solo homers, with seven strikeouts over seven innings.
Roger Kieschnick opened the scoring with a blast over the center-field wall in the second and Josh Mazzola provided the decisive blow in the fifth.
That was all the offense Tanner needed en route to his second playoff victory. The Australian native, who tossed seven scoreless frames in San Jose's semifinal opener against Bakersfield, actually saw his postseason ERA rise to 0.64 with Thursday's performance.
Despite his dominance, Tanner was eager to share the credit.
"There was a lot of huge plays," Tanner said. "We had a lot of ground balls, [Brent] Johnson at first base made two leaping plays. The one in the seventh inning, it was pretty awesome he came up with that. Obviously, you aren't going to strike out everybody and our defense did a great job."
In the Finals for the third time in five years, the Giants are two wins away from their first title since 2007.
"We tried to come in here and prove that we are best team in the league," Tanner said.
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.