Zito tosses first shutout at Coors Field in 3 years
San Francisco Giants' left-hander Barry Zito silenced the naysayers by pitching a complete-game shutout in the Colorado Rockies' home opener at Coors Field.
Out of Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, and Zito, who knew Zito would be the first to put the Giants in the win column in 2012.
Few probably would have anticipated Zito's dominant start based on how he looked in spring training. This preseason, Zito went 2-1, with a 7.91 ERA.
Zito's strikeout-to-walk ration was abysmal. In 19.1 innings pitched, he struck out 13 batters and walked 12.
Not to mention, his curveball looked flat and his fastball was barely topping 83 mph.
Today all that was tossed aside. For at least one day, Zito could be the subject or praise rather than the object of hate.
After the Giants roared with two runs in the top of the first inning on a long Pablo Sandoval home run to deep right field, preceded by a swinging bunt hit by Melky Cabrera, Zito followed with an eight-pitch shut down inning.
Zito came out of the gate looking impressive with his 84 mph fastball, combined with a devastating curveball and changeup. He got Marco Scutaro to groundout, retired Dexter Fowler on a flyout, and struck out Carlos Gonzales swinging on a devastating curveball.
Gonzales went 0-for-4 against Zito.
Zito was perfect for 2 2/3 innings, until opposing pitcher J Chacin singled on a swinging bunt with two outs. Chacin was left stranded after Dexter Fowler struck out swinging.
The Giants' offense was busy today, scoring seven runs.
After Sandoval's home run, the Giants tacked on two more runs in the third inning on a Hector Sanchez single and an Angel Pagan groundout. Chacin struggled with his control all game, walking four in the third inning alone.
The Giants added three more runs in the fifth inning on a Brandon Crawford bases-clearing, three-run double. San Francisco took a 7-0 lead, and has scored at least four runs in the first four games of the season.
The last time the Giants displayed this much offense in their first four games was in 2003, where they scored 25 runs. This year, they scored 21.
Today felt a little more like Giants baseball, but from an unlikely source. Zito figured to be the wild card in San Francisco's rotation, and with more performances like that, the Giants have one less worry to attend to.
Errors dogged the Giants in their sweep at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Today, Angel Pagan committed the only gaffe, but the infield played error-free and looked fluid in doing so.
Brandon Crawford made a couple of nice stops on the infield and Pablo Sandoval made a great diving play in the first inning to rob Scutaro of a base hit.
Simply put, if the Giants play good defense, and hit a little bit, they should reach the playoffs with little problem. The Giants' offense is doing their part, but nobody predicted the starting pitching would do this bad in Arizona.
In recent years, the Giants have struggled to put up runs, even in offensive parks like Colorado and Arizona. Even their outs have been loud recently, which is sometimes a better sign than a bloop hit.
All a baseball player can do is hit the ball hard. The rest is out of his control.
Although Pablo Sandoval looks a bit bigger, his bat sure has not slowed down. Maybe it is just muscle weight or whatever, but his .375 average, with two home runs and six RBI in four games, tells me that he just needs to keep doing what he is doing.
On another note, nobody could have predicted Barry Zito would do this good against the Colorado Rockies. You got a warm, day game at Coors Field, and a recipe for offense at Coors Field.
The fact that Barry Zito shutout the Rockies, where curveballs go flat and the ball travels about 8 percent further, is truly remarkable. People forget that number 75 was once a Cy Young Award Winner and is not one to be underestimated.
Zito proved today that he has it in him to be an ace. He has it in him to get people out in the big leagues, even with his current fastball topping at 84 mph.
He proved his worth by doing what he did in the ultimate pitcher's hell. Coors Field may not have a name that brings up connotations of hell, but many a pitcher perhaps would describe the mile-high stadium as such.
Props to Zito. Just look at this line: 9.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0 HR
The question remains...
Can he back it up?
What do you guys think? Was Zito's start a fluke or a sign of better things to come?
What do you think of the Giants' offense? A fluke or are they just good?
Do you think the pitching mishaps in Arizona were a fluke as well? Zito a CG shutout? Come on!
I am curious to hear your thoughts below.
Check out The Talking Giants Baseball Blog for more great San Francisco Giants articles.By Bay Area Sports Talk