Picture a Dodgers fan sitting down with a bowl of popcorn, eager to watch the game. Dee Gordon walks to lead off the game. Dee Gordon has the same slugging percentage as Barry Zito. The exact thing you cannot do is walk Dee Gordon. Zito did the one thing you cannot do. The Dodgers fan cackled a bit. Sprinkled more ground veal on his popcorn. It's made from baby cows, you know.
Suddenly he's in the middle of a soporific Barry Zito special. It's like a running car in a poorly ventilated garage. You start to get a little sleepy, unsure of what's happening. The next thing you know, Zito's pitched seven shutout innings on three hits and three walks. Your night is gone. Three hours frittered away. There's blood coming from your ear.
Well, not your ear. Because this was sure fun for you. But an opposing fan having to watch his team do that against Zito … that's Geneva Convention stuff right there. Which isn't to say the Dodgers lost more than Zito won. He pitched fine -- he had a good curve working, which hasn't always been the case this year. He kept hitters off balance. He had the archetype of a successful Barry Zito start.
I'd like to think that's why we keep Zito around. Because it's that much more annoying to lose to him. Well, that, and maybe the money. And he's kind of okay! That counts.
But I'm starting to think there isn't a good Zito and a bad Zito. There's just Zito. Eternal Zito. The same guy every time. Sometimes the other team helps him out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes the ground balls find mitts. Sometimes they don't. And it adds up to Zito. He's actually the most consistent pitcher in the history of baseball, we just can't tell.
When you start thinking like that, you avoid the dizzying highs and the pungent lows of the Barry Zito experience. He just is, for better and for worse. When you have tickets, usually worse. But it all adds up to a perfectly fine starting pitcher. Last year was the anomaly. This year is more of the same. And when it happens like it did tonight -- with a big lead and the game hardly in doubt -- it's fun. For us
When the Giants beat the Dodgers, there is no need for scrutiny. Especially when it's a rout. There's no sense getting too bogged down in a dissertation about luck in baseball.
But I can't help getting caught up with the what-ifs. Let's go back to that Dee Gordon walk to lead off the game. What did you throw at the TV? I threw a handful of Altoids. Closest thing I could find. Zito exhibited right away that he didn't have the pinpoint command he needs to be successful. Gordon was going to steal second. Someone else was going to doink him in. I've watched a few Dodgers games this year. They're like the T-1000 of annoying compared to the Padres' old, outdated model.
Except on the very next pitch, Elian Herrara hit the perfect double-play ball. Zito calmed down and pitched seven shutout innings.
In the next inning, Angel Pagan hit a two-run double off first base.
Both Pagan and Herrera were swinging a cylindrical stick and trying to do something distinctly different from the eventual result. Both hit ground balls. One of the ground balls led to a bunch of runs.
I don't know. It's a little strange to get all smoky-dorm-room after an 8-0 game in which the Giants hit the snot out of the ball. But it's a weird sport that we follow.
If I'm looking for good signs about tonight's game, I'm not going to get too excited about Zito. I'm not going to change my opinion of Pablo Sandoval based on his performance -- yep, he's still good. How about that?
So my favorite thing about the game, other than the obvious*, was Gregor Blanco having a good game. We saw what the lineup looks like when Blanco is even lukewarm. It's a welcome, dynamic presence that I sure as heck wasn't expecting this year, but once I got a taste of it, there was no going back. There's no methadone strong enough for leadoff-hitter withdrawal. He needs to keep going.
It's weird that I have this faith in him. He was just a guy on the minor-league free-agent market a few months ago. I certainly haven't ever given Nate Schierholtz this kind of slack, and he's been around for years without ever getting a sustained shot to weather a slump.
There's something about Blanco, though. It's the walk fetish, I'm sure. This is a walk fetishist acknowledging the deviance of another walk fetishist from afar. But it's not like Blanco is a take-first guy, either. He swings the bat. And he fouls off so, so many pitches. He has the highest foul/swing ratio in baseball. Not that I know what that means. This is where you, the reader, gets screwed. Another blogger would run into the Excel cave and figure this out for you. Me? It just sounds cool to me. Blanco is a foul-ball machine. Seems like that's important, like it makes pitchers work hard. But I have no real idea.
We've seen the upside of a productive Blanco, though. It was a beautiful vision. It started to fade a bit. So of all the good things tonight, Blanco looking like the guy from last month was my favorite.
But I also enjoyed the everything about tonight. That was my favorite part. The everything.
* The everything