Then, Barry Zito pitched a gem.
Zito went seven innings and allowed just three hits while shutting out the red-hot Atlanta Braves. San Francisco gave him nine runs of support, so the Giants probably would have won if Vogelsong pitched. However, Zito's gem is a great sign for Giants fans.
After watching Zito lose three straight starts in June (he allowed 17 ER in 14.1 IP during that span), most Giants fans expected another lackluster season from Zito. But he bounced back very nicely, delivering three solid performances before the All-Star break.
And then, he delivered one great performance after the All-Star break.
Even though Zito got into some jams, he did a great job overall. He was hitting his spots and getting ahead of the count with his fastball to set up his curveball and other off-speed pitches. Zito only struck out four hitters, but he hit the corners and jammed a lot of hitters.
As a result, he picked up his eighth win of the season and lowered his ERA from 4.01 to 3.75.
Zito has been an on-and-off pitcher during his entire career. Usually, he dominates right out of the gate and starts the season off with great stats. Then, he goes on a slump and pitches terribly in the second half, hurting the Giants' playoff chances.
Giants fans are hoping that Zito doesn't do that in the second half. If he pitches like he did today, I doubt he will.
Atlanta came into the game riding a seven-game winning streak. Against the Mets, they scored seven, eight and six runs. However, an offense consisting of Michael Bourn, Martin Prado, Brian McCann, Chipper Jones, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman couldn't manage a single run off Zito, George Kontos and Clay Hensley.
Like I said, Zito has been inconsistent. However, he has turned in some great performances this year, and I expect those to continue. I think Zito will be inconsistent in the second half, but I also think Zito will turn in some great performances and finish with solid stats.
Barry Zito will be an interesting guy to watch. He has been very inconsistent and inaccurate, but today, he was effectively hitting his spots and mixing up his pitches. As long as Zito can hit his spots, he will have success in the second half.
So, in conclusion, Zito's performance shows you what he could do in the second half. What he will do is something I can't answer until the season comes to an end.
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