Aaron Rowand

Zito avoids becoming richest minor leaguer since Michael Jordan

While his paychecks were in no danger of changing, Barry Zito faced a lifestyle change he wasn’t looking forward to when he took the hill against the Tribe of Cleveland.

If he had another performance like the boo-creating turd he dropped last week at Mays Field against the Tigers, he might have been switching from a first-class seat on a chartered plane to a vomit-stained bench on a Greyhound bus; from his own hotel suite to a room at a Days Inn; from fresh ahi in Sausalito to Grilled Shrimp Spinach Salad at Applebee’s.

Zito responded to the threat of pseudo-poverty with his best start as a Giant. Sure, the Indians are hardly the Tigers (or the A’s, even) on offense. But Zito showed the big curve, he kept the Indians off balance and most of all, he had command.

Not just hitting the strike zone command, but control of both sides of the plate. He showed it’s possible to reach his Kirk Reuter-at-his-peak ceiling, which is all Giants fans are hoping for at this point from their $126 million left-hander.

And best of all, Zito was pissed at Bruce Bochy when he came out to remove him with two outs in the seventh inning. We all probably could have gone without the subtle but noticeable shaking of Zito’s head that was caught on camera after Keiichi Yabu gave up the grounder that went under John Bowker’s glove to score a run (a play Bowker should have made), but can you blame Zito at this point? It’s not like Yabu is on fire right now, and he woke up this morning knowing it was very possible he’d find himself in Augusta by Saturday.

Zito will still probably end up with one of the worst records in baseball since Detroit’s Mike Maroth went 9-21 in 2003. But last night in Cleveland he saved himself from being banished to the land of $20 per diems and 2,000 seat stadiums.

More thoughts on the Giants’ 4-1 win

-If people can say things like “Omar Vizquel’s defense saves five wins a year,” can’t it also be said that Bengie Molina’s lack of speed takes away five wins per season?

-Bowker made up for his mediocre defense on that aforementioned grounder, but he made up for it with a homer in the next inning, a majestic fly ball down the right field line.

-That’s eight dingers for Bowker, which ties him for the league lead with Aaron Rowand — what does that say for the rest of the squad that Bowker will probably lead the squad in home runs when this season’s over?

-Something tells me if Omar Vizquel weren’t making his “triumphant” return to Cleveland, this series would average about 7,500 fans per game.

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