Barry Zito. As soon as you start to think “Oh hey, he doesn’t suck that much”, he sucks that much.
How much, you ask? This much.
How much, you ask again? Zito also walked 7 of the 20 batters he faced. Up until now, he’d walked 6 batters in his previous 4 games. The 7 BBs is a career high.
Of course, Zito was not helped by the Giants’ shaky defense to start the game. A grounder got by Brandon Crawford in the first inning (not an error, but it’s something you hope Crawford gets to), followed by a Hector Sanchez passed ball that allowed two runners to advance. An error in the second inning by Joaquin Arias with two outs allowed a run to score. When Zito has to pitch in the neighborhood of 60 pitches in the first two innings, you know the game will not end well.
Zito ended up being pulled after 3 2/3 innings and 91 pitches, having allowed just 2 hits and 2 earned runs, but also giving up those 7 walks with just one strike-out (BB:K ratio: 7.0. Ouch). His curveball just wasn’t there tonight.
The game seemed to just amble along. The Giants appeared bored and disinterested. Marlins pitcher Carlos Zambrano spent most of the game with a damnable smirk on his face. Pablo Sandoval left the game after the 6th inning, with what was later described by Bruce Bochy as “quite a bit of pain in his left hand” (a DL stint is a possibility). Relievers Steve Edlefsen, Travis Blackley and Guillermo Mota pitched adequately, although they all walked a batter each in their collective four innings of work. The Giants would end up walking a total 10 Marlins for the night.
And then the bottom of the 9th inning happened.
Brandon Belt lead off with a double on a pitch in on the hands (hole in his swing? what hole?). Arias reached across the plate for a single that brought Belt in to score standing up, even with a bit of hesitation at third base. Buster Posey’s pinch-hit single moved Arias to third base. Emmanuel Burriss came in to pinch run for Posey. Brett Pill pinch hit, but struck out quite badly on 3 pitches.
Gregor Blanco to the rescue! A perfectly executed safety squeeze bunt got Arias home from third to tie the game. Angel Pagan grounded into a fielder’s choice that eliminated the lead runner but left runners at 1B and 2B. Melky Cabrera singled to load the bases. Which left. . . Ryan Theriot (the last position player on the bench) at the plate. His grounder to second left the bases loaded and the game tied.
Arias, who had earlier moved from 2B to 3B when Sandoval left the game, moved to SS for the 10th inning (with Burriss taking 3B and Theriot staying in at 2B). Santiago Casilla came in to pitch. In the inning, Arias made a tremendous play cutting off a grounder from Omar Infante, making the throw to get the runner at 1B, almost making up for his error in the 2nd inning. But then, with one out, Giancarlo Stanton launched a ball into the left field stands, giving the Marlins a one-run advantage.
In the bottom of the 10th, Sanchez struck out, Belt struck out, and Arias popped up to right field. The end.
A disappointing end to a game that got really good for a little bit there.
- Pagan extended his MLB-leading hitting streak to 16 games.
- Belt had two hits, perhaps earning him another start this week.
- Nate Schierholtz came in to pinch hit to lead off the 7th inning, but weakly grounded out. Nate is now 1-for-22 since his 6-for-10 day during the double-header in New York on April 23. No bueno.
- Sanchez is looking like a young player best suited for occasional back-up work. He looked lost at the plate, striking out three times.
- The Giants saw some improvement in batting with RISP, going 4-for-11 (.367), but unfortunately they didn’t get the hits when they needed them most. Collectively the team left 11 men on base. And yet they lost to a team that went 0-for-8 with RISP, also leaving 11 men on base (on just 5 hits).
The Giants are back on the field for a 12:45 game tomorrow, with Ryan Vogelsong facing Anibal Sanchez.