If you had made a bet that Barry Zito would be the first San Francisco starting pitcher to get a win this season, you’d be probably as rich as Mr. Zito himself—which is saying a lot.
First, it means that the odds of Zito producing a victory before Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain or Madison Bumgarner did were extremely unbalanced. Second, it might signify that you are a crazy gambler who likes to live on the edge. You probably also bet that Bubba Watson would win the Masters, right?
And yet, there you have it, Zito threw a complete-game shutout against the Colorado Rockies on Monday—a baffling display to opposing hitters and anyone who was watching in the stands, on TV or online. The 7-0 victory was Zito's first shutout since 2003.
The Rockies put on an embarrassing display of hitting against Zito, who compiled a spring-training ERA of 7.91. Yikes.
The man who threw 12 bases on balls in 19.1 innings in the month of March allowed no walks against Colorado on Monday. The man with a 1.43 WHIP over his past four seasons allowed only four hits against the Rockies, with one of them coming from opposing starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin.
There was quite a fuss over the Giants keeping Zito in the starting rotation. After all, with the likes of Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner and last year’s sensation, Ryan Vogelsong, Zito was considered the fifth wheel of one of the best pitching staffs in the league.
Certainly, the 33-year-old lefty was deemed to be on his last life this season. Were he to continue to put up terrible performances, the Giants would undoubtedly have to consider how to rid themselves of Zito.
But, because Vogelsong has not yet fully recovered from a spring-training back injury, Zito not only was an important cog to the starting rotation—he also became the No. 4 starter.
This appeared to be a bad omen for the Giants, who were swept in their season-opening series against the Arizona Diamondbacks this past weekend. With Lincecum, Bumgarner and Cain struggling to find form, each allowing two home runs in their respective starts, it was assumed that Zito would naturally follow suit—especially in Colorado.
And yet amazingly enough, Zito was the one who found a way to shut down the opposition. Not Lincecum, not Cain—two of the best right-handers in the National League. Zito. Barry freakin’ Zito threw a shutout, stifling the Rockies with a respectable 113-pitch effort.
If San Francisco is going to make a run at a division title, Zito will need to provide more starts like this one. Monday is certainly a step in the right direction, as the Giants cannot rely on Lincecum and Cain to win every game.
Can he keep it up? Maybe Zito’s shutout was incredibly lucky. Who knows?
But if you bet on Zito to be the first Giants starter to record a victory, you are, in fact, the lucky one.
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