As the San Francisco Giants presented their new, totally unexpected template for losing games in their opening series against the Arizona D-Backs — an offense that scores runs, starting pitchers who surrender homers en masse — our lives were turned upside down. With Barry Zito throwing a shutout (yes, you read that correctly) in Colorado for the Giants’ first win, that lightheaded sensation seems more like a really great roller coaster (let’s say The Demon, one of my old faves) than someone holding our ankles, shaking the loose change from our pockets.
This wasn’t just a lucky date with circumstance for Zito. He wasn’t the recipient of amazing fielding, scorched liners finding lucky gloves or a bad opposing lineup. From the start, Zito looked like a new man. While it doesn’t mean anything long-term, not yet, it’s certainly a clue that this season’s going to be a fun, weird ride.
The surreal details:
— First CG shutout since 2003 vs. Texas (a game where Zito wore a mock turtleneck under his jersey, which shows you how long ago it was)
— No walks (70 of his 113 pitches were strikes)
— Five 1-2-3 innings
— No Colorado hitter reached third base
— His fastball even touched 85 mph at times — not great, but better than the 80-82 mph we saw this spring.
— Zito also volleyed a single to center off Esmil Rogers after fouling off several pitches.
The most hilarious, head-shaking part of this is obviously Zito pitching so well after how he looked this spring. Close behind: all the people on Twitter and other outlets yesterday — disoriented like all of us were by the D-Backs’ sweep and how it occurred — predicting Zito would come out and dominate. Here’s an example (I included my own reaction, which still stands):
As for the non-Zitos…
Hector Sanchez not only went 2-for-5, he squashed the notion that the Giants’ staff will suffer without the steady hands of Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart … Brandon Crawford’s defense looked like it’s supposed to, and he slapped a beautiful 3-run double down the left field line … Pablo Sandoval’s 2nd-deck HR left the park in about 1.4 seconds in the first inning to get the Giants rolling … Melky Cabrera had an infield single that Mike Krukow called “a thang” .. Even Angel Pagan, who some people are already giving up on (err, not smart), hit a double late in this one.
Now the only winless teams in MLB are the Red Sox, Yankees, Twins and Braves. Yep, this is one strange year.