I make notes throughout the game, jotting down ideas for what I'm going to hit on for the post-game thread. In the eighth inning, I looked up and noticed that all I had was a bunch of nasty Barry Zito lines and this Photoshop that I made in the third inning:
Obviously that wasn't going to do for a win that snapped a losing streak. It felt like Zito was the story for so danged long, but when you looked up, the Giants had put runs on the board against Erik Bedard. They did it with Ryan Theriot, Justin Christian, and a lot of Melky Cabrera. It was a good day. A good win. A needed win. So step back, sit down, get in the lotus position, and breathe out. Good, good. Now inhale. Okay. Tell us what's on your mind.
Melky Cabrera's so damned good.
Yes, yes. It's true. I remember the days of yore, when I secretly hoped Melky could be as good as he was last year. Hands clasped, on bended knee, just wondering and hoping for the Melky that did so well for the Royals. Wasn't expecting better. Wasn't expecting better at all.
I don't think it's sacrilege to note the batting average on balls in play. I'd guess his true talent level is that 2011 season. But considering that he does everything else well, and that's only 27, I'm starting to root for an extension. I don't want an extension at .358/.396/.527 rates, of course. But a four-year deal at the .305/.339/.470 rate would be just ducky. I believe.
Okay. More deep breaths. Let the Zito flow out of your system.
Ryan Theriot isn't good, necessarily. But he's not bad. A reminder: Emmanuel Burris was starting every game for a while. There were brief Charlie Culberson respites. It was a mess. I would get drunk and wake up with Orlando Hudson's FanGraphs page open on my computer. Considering the alternatives, Theriot is perfectly acceptable. He hit the ball hard tonight.
Almost calm. Almost at peace.
And what's this about complaining over a Justin Christian/Gregor Blanco platoon? It's funny how quickly we get attached to a minor-league free agent after a month of good play. But it's just as likely for Christian to help as it is for Blanco to remain productive. Christian has a triple-A pedigree -- more so than Blanco, even. If I had to choose one, I go with Blanco. He has more of an OBP track record in the majors, and he's younger. But Christian isn't a bad fifth outfielder. Not at all. And as a righty bat to start against lefties while Blanco is struggling, he's just fine.
There. Positive thoughts. It was a good game. Horrible at first, and stressful later, but a good game. And after all that gnashing of teeth, Zito got the win! What a job! Boy, if Matt Cain had that kind of winner's instinct, maybe he could have picked up a win in one of his last two outings.
Okay, I think that fills the happy quota. Because I have to get the unwatchability of Zito off my chest. It's not entirely right to complain about it, as the Giants traded the most unwatchable pitcher in baseball to get that there Melky we were just talking about, but that doesn't mean it isn't a chore. Watching a Zito start is like watching an okay boxer whose main strategy is to get close and clinch his opponent every ten seconds. It might work some of the time. Still dreadful to watch. Still boring.
In the top of the third, Barry Zito walked Josh Harrison to lead off the inning. Four pitches. That's like me using the wrong your/you're on four different occasions in this post. Inexcusable. Without looking, I'm going to guess at Harrison's slugging percentage: .344. And … hey, .375! Not bad for a speedy middle infielder. Still, you can't walk him. Major-league pitchers can't walk him. Zito has those bouts of funkiness, though, and it's all over.
Zito walked Rod Barajas. That was the first walk of Barajas's career.
There are different kinds of unwatchable. I'm sure Brad Penny was completely unwatchable for Tigers fans last year, and if he were to start for the Giants, there's a decent chance he'd be that bad again. But at least it'd be a different kind of unwatchable, right? It'd be a refreshing change of pace.
Not that I'm advocating for a switch yet. But I'm at least considering the idea, weighing the pros and cons of Brad Penny vs. Barry Zito. Who'd have thought that in April.
Those are Chris Stewart's stats this year. I feel like those should be updated after every successful George Kontos outing. That was one of Sabean's better trades, even if Kontos doesn't throw another inning. The potential chasm between the two players is enormous. Kontos might be Tim Worrell one of these days, and he was given up for a guy who's almost indistinguishable from Eli Whiteside.
Sergio Romo gets one of these:
He was the sheriff tonight, pardner. The closer. The boss. The guy who'll make the talk-radio lines light up after every blown Casilla save. And he didn't do as well as we're used to, hanging a couple of sliders and getting lucky with two hard-hit outs. But he's still Romo, and he does that every so often to let us know that we're spoiled.
My favorite part of the game was when Clint Hurdle sent up a pinch-hitter in the ninth. Quoth Kuiper:
Fryer … is a backup catcher.
A right-handed backup catcher was the guy left on the bench in the ninth. Nice managing, you purple weirdo. Sheesh.
One thing I noticed tonight is that Romo uses his fastball like he's playing a game of rock-paper-scissors. He throws it, and when the hitter is thinking he's not going to come back with it, Romo throws it again. There's no way he's going to throw scissors twice, the hitter cries. And then Romo sliders them to death. Fun to watch.