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Bay Area Sports Beat: What You Need to Know Right Now

The champs are here. (Photo courtsey of sfgate.com) 

Flags were raised, bling was given, nostalgic highlights were on repeat and the Giants even wore gold to commemorate the whole thing.

Oh, and they played a little bit of baseball, too.

It was a week of celebration as the Giants returned officially to action at AT&T Park for the first time since sweeping the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series last fall.

Some of the non-orange and black variety (see: Jealous types) may have accused the Giants of dragging the whole party on; the championship flag was raised on Friday, Buster Posey’s MVP commemoration was on Saturday, and the ring ceremony was on Sunday.

Certainly, Giants fans have been spoiled by means of two titles in a three-season span, but for a franchise that experienced a 54-season drought prior to 2010, you can forgive the Giants for milking the euphoria for everything it’s worth. It’s the Giants’ party, damnit, and they’ll prolong it as long as they want to.

As for the baseball itself (yes, it happened) results could have been better, but they could have been worse, too. Expectedly, the Giants’ early success hinged on the strengths of their pitching and when undone, it was largely a result of their stuttering offense.

The Giants were stymied on Opening Day by Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, but rebounded to take the next two games and the series at Dodger Stadium behind the efforts of Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum.

All eyes were on the two-time Cy Young winner Lincecum after a horrid individual season in 2012. He hardly inspired glowing confidence that a bounce-back year is on the horizon after issuing a career-high seven walks in five innings, but it was enough for the Giants to win the rubber match, 5-3.

The once-maligned Barry Zito kept the positive Giants vibes going during Friday’s home opener, shutting down the Cardinals in a 1-0 victory. For Zito, it was a continuation of his stellar postseason.

Zito went 7-0 in his final eight starts of last season and helped the Giants stave off elimination against the Reds and the Cardinals in the postseason.

“That’s an amazing run that he’s had, and really it’s incredible how he’s turned it around from some of the up-and-down years,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the Associated Press. “To get off to a start like this, I couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Giants starting pitchers didn’t allow an earned run until Saturday’s loss against the Cardinals…

Closing time in Berkeley

Easily the most successful season in Cal women’s basketball history came to an abrupt and bitter end on Sunday in New Orleans.

Cal (32-4) made a deep postseason run and made the program’s first Final Four, only to fall to Louisville 64-57 in the National Semifinals.

At one point, the Bears led by six points in the second half, but were unable to hold off Louisville, which now advances to face UConn in Tuesday’s final. Senior Layshia Clarendon led the Bears with 17 points and Gennifer Brandon scored 10.

“I think forever the legacy they will have left from this year is that when you come to Cal, you play for the person next to you,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb told the San Jose Mercury News. “You play with a lot of character, you work really hard, you make the name on the front of your chest the most important thing even if you’re really, really talented.”

Dodging seagull turds since 1984: @seanswaby