Barry Zito

Giants offense tests Barry Zito again

Last night’s game had its moments, and the fact that the Giants lost wasn’t all that surprising given the pitching matchup. So while it was another exercise in anemic offense against a divisional opponent, last night’s game wasn’t nearly as unpleasant to attend as the last one we went to, the infamous broken bat triple game against the Rockies.

(Side note: how many times can Giants broadcasters and/or radio hosts accuse the Rockies of cheating before the Rockies come out with some sort of “stop talking crap about us” press release directed toward the Giants? Humidor shenanigans, corked bats — with F.P. Santangelo, Marty Lurie and Jon Miller bringing this stuff up every week, it’s almost like Jim Tracy is baseball’s version of Bill Belichick.)

At least in that last game I went to, when the Giants lost 2-1, I went in thinking the home team would score a few runs. Jonathan Sanchez started that game, and he leads the team in run support per 9 innings (8.06, which puts him 5th in the NL among starters with at least 20 starts behind Kevin Correia, Carlos Silva, Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick).

Tim Lincecum’s run support is second on the staff (6.55), followed by Madison Bumgarner (6.17 … even though he doesn’t have 20 starts in the Majors we’ll include him because I feel like it), and Matt Cain (5.56). Trailing everyone in the rotation, surprise-surprise, is Zito (4.69).

Only three NL pitchers with over 20 starts have had worse run support than Zito, whose record sits at 8-13 after another hard-luck loss last night, a loss that said more about the Giants’ shortstop situation than anything related to Zito. Those pitchers are Ted Lilly (4.28 RS, 8-10 record), Roy Oswalt (4.02, 12-13) and Johan Santana (3.98, 11-9).

In 18 starts before the All-Star Break for Zito, the Giants scored at least 4 runs eight times. Not coincidentally, Zito was 7-4 at the break and a contender to make the All-Star team before a couple poor starts at Houston and at Colorado derailed those hopes. Since the Break? 13 starts, and the Giants have scored at least 4 runs in a Zito start exactly one time (a 5-4 win over the Cubs where Zito had a no-decision).

The point of all this? Zito may have an incredible contract, a great charity and woman falling all over him wherever he goes, but he’s being tested right now. This isn’t to say he deserves sympathy, but he does deserve a spot in the rotation if the Giants make the playoffs. Because in the postseason the Giants won’t score many runs regardless of the starter they throw out there, so Zito will have as good a chance at losing 1-0 as anybody.

Notes from AT&T

— Best moment of the game: Matt Kemp trying to steal second and getting absolutely hosed by Buster Posey. You have to wonder what Kemp’s been thinking this year, he has 18 steals but he’s been caught 15 times. There’s a guy who stopped caring long ago.

— I didn’t really think about this because I was too busy drinking beer and checking scores on my new phone (yep, I turned into one of those people), but Ray Ratto has a good point: why do the Giants insist on making us check the awful manual out of town scoreboard that’s awkwardly situated on/in the right field wall? I don’t need a new scoreboard, just show some damn highlights on your gigantic HDTV in centerfield. I know game highlights not only take the focus away from the Giants (horror of all horrors) and don’t pay the bills (like the lottery promotion and paid birthday/anniversary messages shown in the picture I took), we can handle three or four fewer smooches on the kiss cam if it means seeing a couple highlights of the Rockies/Padres game.

— I had no idea Jay Gibbons was still playing. Last time I heard he was in that whole Jason Grimsley circle of steroids rumors. Is David Segui a Dodger now, too?

— In a related note, even though Zito pitched really well for 5 innings, that was a garbage lineup the Dodgers threw out there last night. Casey Blake hitting third?

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