When Mike Trout came up to the plate in the first inning against Barry Zito, I thought -- and you probably thought -- good gravy, this is a terrible matchup.
It's not like you've seen hundreds of Trout at-bats. You don't know what his tendencies are. You don't know what he's like with bernardinic fastballs at the chin, or rowandian sliders in the dirt. You don't know if crafty lefties give him fits in a way that powerful right-handers can't. I've watched plenty of Mike Trout, and I couldn't tell you he was destined to mash a soft-tosser like Zito. Certainly not with any sort of authority.
But from the second Trout stepped into the box, there was dread. You had dread. I had dread. You texted "DREAD" to an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend. They didn't understand, and they might have called an emergency number. But there was dread. You just knew, sans scouting report, that Mike Trout didn't match up well with Barry Zito.
It was like Trout was a coming presence -- the Lone Biker of the Apocalypse from Raising Arizona, in baseball form. And he was coming for Zito. Maybe not the actual Barry Zito. But the Zitos of the baseball world -- the guys who made a living by being "quite okay" and "rather acceptable" and "what in the hell else are we going to do at this point?" That's who Trout was coming for.
Pujols picked his teeth with the bones of those guys nine years ago, so it's kind of rude for him to do it after we all thought he was done for. But Trout's going to keep doing it.
I look at 21 players going ahead of Mike Trout in the 2009 draft -- including Stephen Strasburg -- and I don't understand it. Just don't understand it. How can scouting be that inexact of a science? Trout is the perfect ballplayer. I just don't understand it.
Huh. Figured that would have fulfilled the Barry Zito quota for this post-game thread, but I ended up talking about Mike Trout. Okay.
Imagine that you're talking with a 2006 Giants executive about Barry Zito. "We're thinking about signing him", they'd say. "Oh," you'd say. "Yeah, thinking about locking him up for seven years." "Oh," you'd say. "Yep, just worried about injury," they'd say. "Well, don't worry about that," you'd say because you're an idiot. "He'll only miss a handful of starts." "Oh, boy!," they'd say. "We'll go sign him right now!" And they'd leave in a cloud of dust. And you'll have ruined everything.
Because this is the same damned thing. Every year. For the sixth year. He'll have good starts, where you'll start to wonder if he might make good on the contract. He'll have bad starts, where you'll shake your fists toward the heavens as if Zito were a left-handed Ricardo Montelbán.
This has been going on for so damned long. Six years! We're six years into this! You know what movie came out six years ago? The Simpsons Movie. That's how long Zito has been on the team. Do you remember the ads for that movie? Of course not, because that was a lifetime ago.
Right now, Barry Zito is the bad Barry Zito. I'd prefer that he wasn't. But he'll knock out a 6 IP, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K outing in the next couple of weeks. Maybe. Just you watch. Maybe.
George Kontos looked like a major-league pitcher tonight. I don't know about a late-inning option, but he looked like someone who should be in a bullpen.
As long as the Coen brothers quotes are flying, might as well drop one of these:
You want a Chris Stewart? I can get you a Chris Stewart, believe me. There are ways, Dude. You don't want to know about it, but believe me.
The Giants got a live arm for the backup-catcheriest of the backup catchers. From the second Kontos was on the 40-man roster, I can't imagine how he wasn't a better option than Edlefsen. He looked good.
Two golden quotes from the CSN broadcast tonight:
I wish he would have started.
-- Kuiper, on Kontos
There wasn't one thing that fooled Trout on that pitch
-- Krukow, after Mike F. Trout singled on a decent breaking ball in his third at-bat
Is it sad that I'm proud of the Giants for making a little noise and scoring five runs? No. No, it is not sad. If you watched the 2011 Giants, you know what I'm talking about. After Zito gave up three runs before the first out, I figured the Giants where done for. That's not overly cynical. The odds were in my favor.
And after that, the Giants scored five runs. Enough to win the game! Except for all the other runs the Angels scored. But there are moral victories in a 162-game season, and this is one of them. The Giants didn't just hump C.J. Wilson's leg and leave him a tip. They made him work. They lost, but they made him work.
In October, when the Giants are looking to win the fourth Wild Card spot, let's make a big point about them scoring five runs in a June game. Because it feels like it should matter. It should matter, right? Five runs! Against a pitcher I've head of!
Maybe not. But there was a point when a Ryan Theriot single could have brought the Giants within two runs. Feels like there's some sort of moral victory that goes along with that. In a Zito start, I'll take that.