Barry Zito

Just Call me Bay Area Jinx Guy

I almost feel guilty.

Just one week into Spring Training, and the Giants’ lefty starters have already given two performances eerily similar to my 2008 Worst-Case Scenario.

First Barry Zito gave up eight runs in only two-thirds of an inning against the A’s on Saturday. OK, first outing of the spring, probably no big deal for a guy who relies so heavily on his curveball. And my worst-case scenario was regarding the regular season, anyway.

Noah Lowry’s second start of the spring yesterday, now that’s cause for concern — both for Lowry and because my rampant pessimism from that day seems to be coming true. Lowry not only walked 9 of 12 Rangers in the first inning yesterday, he uncorked three more pitches that flew into the backstop (after suffering the same humiliation twice in his first appearance against the Cubs), and even overthrew a pickoff attempt. In 2 1/3 innings, Lowry has thrown 58 balls and 27 strikes, walking 12 out of 23 batters faced.

Only in baseball does one see a player lose it to such a degree that a previously simple muscle-memory task becomes impossible. The names of those who suddenly became unable to throw accurately are well known: Steve Sax, Mackey Sasser, Mark Wohlers, and the guy that I compared to Lowry in my worst-case scenario:

“Noah Lowry is so bothered by constant trade rumors that he goes completely Rick Ankiel, unable to hit the strike zone for three consecutive outings before he is demoted to Triple-A Fresno and converted to the outfield.”

According to Boch, there’s nothing wrong physically with Lowry. But this may be one of those rare instances when an injury would almost bring a sigh of relief. If Lowry has a case of the Ankiels, history has shown there’s a decent chance he’ll never get over it.

Plus, it’s no guarantee Lowry will be willing to go the HGH route that Ankiel took to morph from pitcher to power hitter.

Could this all be happening because a jinx I created? Too soon to worry about that yet, but if Matt Cain starts seeing some psychic named Tangerine in a couple months to get over four straight losses to open the season, I’m going to be really scared.

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