SAN FRANCISCO Barry Zito said all along that two of hisprevious three losses hadnt been terrible starts, except for the result in thebox score.
Its true, the Rangers and Angels can take the cheese graterto a starting pitcher better than almost any team in either league. Zito felthe hadnt made too many terrible pitches while staying aggressive. He didntfall into the trap of nibbling and walking hitters.
Zito plugged the leak against the Los Angeles Dodgers bydoing a little of both.
He returned to his winning ways while holding down a Dodgerslineup that didnt exactly resemble a first-place murderers row. They managedjust three hits against him, and Zito pitched around three walks in the firsttwo innings. Handed a huge lead, he cruised as he normally does.
And he offered some pretty strong postgame analysis, too.
Theyre pretty banged up over there and weve got tocapitalize on that, Zito said. We were banged up early and they capitalizedon that. Its the nature of the game. Its a marathon, and were happy withwhere were at.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy noted that Zito might have beentoo aggressive in the strike zone in those losses to the Rangers and Angels; hesaid Zito learned from those experiences and did a better job being focused onmaking quality pitches, and using all his pitches.
Zito was 0-4 in his last eight starts against the Dodgers,even though he posted a 2.92 ERA over that span. He beat them for the firsttime since May 8, 2009. And yes, he acknowledged it was a big deal for him.
Yeah, definitely, he said. Its the biggest rivalry inbaseball, and well be playing them down the stretch in crunch time, inSeptember. So no doubt.
Catcher Hector Sanchez said he was fine and that doctorsconcurred after he took a foul ball off the side of the mask in the ninthinning Monday night.
Sanchez had turned his head slightly when he absorbed theimpact. It appeared small pieces of debris flew off his mask and trainersrushed out to check on him. But he told them he could finish the game, and wasnot woozy.
Afterward, Sanchez gave Barry Zito a hug and was lucid as hespoke with reporters. He had two hits including an RBI double in place ofBuster Posey and helped Zito to his third start of seven shutout innings or morethis season.
Posey is expected to be back behind the plate to catch RyanVogelsong on Tuesday.
Even with the Giants up 7-0 after the second inning, Bochynever took out any of his starters early. Even guys like Angel Pagan and MelkyCabrera, who are playing every day and a little nicked up, stayed out there tothe end.
Sure, its June. But its also a rivalry game against thefirst-place team, and Bochy wasnt about to take any chances.
This was like a win-win-win for the Giants. Not only do theysave the bullpen and have no need for closer Santiago Casilla, who wasunavailable after being taxed over the weekend, but they were able to givePosey a break. The Giants are 7-2 in games when Posey doesnt make anappearance in the box score, according to BayAreaSportsGuy.com.
Obviously, the Giants are a better team with Posey in thelineup. But a stat like that makes it a little easier for Bochy and maybesome Giants fans to stomach his needed days off to rest his ankle. The clubwont be able to afford that luxury in September, so they might as well takeadvantage of it now.