We've figured it out. If Barry Zito wants to win, send him to Florida. If only the trip to play the Marlins was six weeks ago, Zito wouldn't be 0-8. It was a make-or-break game for Barry, and he made it. The streak, the hard luck, is over.
Granted, the Giants finally gave him some run support, scoring eight runs. Yet Zito made it so the Giants didn't HAVE to score that many. Right at the outset, when he walked Hanley Ramirez, it looked bad. His command of the fastball was off, nothing looked sharp.
Ray Durham came over and said something to Zito, and something finally clicked. The changeup was going where it was supposed to. The trademark curveball was breaking down hitters from both sides of the plate. Even the fastball was popping Bengie Molina's glove. It was all coming together, as well it should. He's waited long enough for the first win, and he got it in good fashion.
Zito can finally breathe again. His ERA has been steadily been dropping, now to an almost respectable 5.65. He struck out five today, and also worked a season-high six-and-one-third innings. There were a couple one, two, three innings, which have come few and far between for him.
If last year was any indicator, this kind of game can turn it around for Zito. I'm not saying that he'll win eight in a row, but it's a huge leap in the right direction. This still does not help him shed the identity of a flop with a lucrative contract, but it helps. Any pitcher will tell you, 1-8 is a whole lot better than 0-9.
It was a real team-effort this time behind Zito. Rich Aurilia has really picked it up, and Aaron Rowand is continuing his All-Star run. It was said during the game that teams don't beat the Marlins, the Marlins beat themselves. This is certainly true, because the Marlins did make errors that led to runs.
But there have been games this year, like this one, that the Giants have shown that they don't have a completely anemic offense. Three home runs, two doubles by Aurilia, the players on this team that are supposed to be hitting are hitting right now, and it's great fun to watch. Keiichi Yabu is throwing real well right now, and came in again, shutting down both righties and lefties.
Three in a row, and the Giants are playing good ball right now. They deserved that extra-inning win in Colorado, and Barry Zito deserved to win today. The Marlins might be leading the NL East, but the Giants are a team that's poised to erase their six-game losing streak.
Kruk and Kuip talked today about comparing Omar Vizquel to Ozzie Smith, and ran it as a parallel to that of comparing Gene Kelly to Fred Astaire. It's a debate that could go on for a long time, but Omar Vizquel is Fred Astaire, a truly graceful dancer that makes everything look easy, while Ozzie is Gene Kelly, a gymnastic type athlete.
Also, Florida's lack of interest in baseball is abysmal. Both the Marlins and Rays are in first place, and there are still less than 15,000 people at their games. What can be done about this?