You wouldn't know it by this picture, but Barry Zito most certainly did not lay an egg today.
A four-game sweep is usually a good way to get that magic number down. It's at four? Four. (Updated after Dodgers loss. Three. It's three. Whoop whoop.) Let's get this out of the way:
|If the Giants finish the season like this ...||The Dodgers would need to do this to force a tie ...|
|4-8||no, seriously, lol dodgers|
This is a slightly different divisional race compared to 2010, alright. Who'd've thunk it after the Giants were swept by the Dodgers at the end of July:
Now back to present day. The worst part of this series was the everything. But if I have to narrow it down, I especially disliked how the Giants made it easy to pretend this was a shift in momentum. The Dodgers traded for Hanley Ramirez, and suddenly everything changed. The Dodgers' clubhouse is rejuvenated or some crap. Even if Ramirez went 0-12 in the series and Marco Scutaro had six RBI in the series, that still would have been the theme after a Dodgers sweep. Instead, everything had to go just like that, and make it even more obvious. Scutaro really helped things along by making an error and hitting into a double play in a ten-minute span.
Man. I don't even remember that. The Dodgers started stinking. Then they swallowed the Red Sox and absorbed their powers, contracts, and stretch-run abilities. Hunter Pence was acquired and pinned to the lineup in a tasteful display. Melky was suspended. Scutaro turned into Joe Morgan.
What a weird couple of months.
The best part of today, other than updating that table, was watching Pablo Sandoval hit home runs. He can be a frustrating player to watch. The next-Vlad schtick is cute until he's missing the 57-foot curves and bouncing into double plays. But you really, really start to notice it when the power disappears. This was the first time the Giants won in a game Pablo homered in since ... last night. Amazing. But before that, the last time the Giants won in a game with a Pablo home run was April 29.
That's insane. And here the Giants are, nine games up on September 20 anyway. Now if Pablo can keep hitting like we know he's capable of? Goodness, the lineup looks strong. Mecha-Posey, Pagan, Scutaro, a normal Belt ... it's a collection of legitimate hitters. Imagine that.
And if Pence could keep it going ...
Hector Sanchez had another catcher's interference call, his second of the week. This one pushed a runner to second that would eventually score on a two-out single.
Over the last few days, there's been a lot of discussion about the extra runs Buster Posey costs the Giants because he doesn't block the plate. Sanchez might not get another catcher's interference call over the next five years, so this isn't to suggest that his CI calls cancel out the concerns about Posey.
But it's a reminder that there are a lot of ways a catcher can prevent or allow runs. In just about every scenario, Posey is better at preventing the runs. Just because there's a hypothetical scenario in which he isn't better at preventing runs, that doesn't make him anything but the best option to catch for the Giants, and isn't close at all.
Brandon Crawford Gold Glove Update
The note here simply reads: "The Danger of Zito." Sheesh, that seems like a depressing note for a well-pitched game. Stop being such a cynic, Grant from two hours ago.
I will say this: Barry Zito's curveball is better now than it was last month, or the month before that. It's sharper, and he has better command with it. That's not just an idle statement -- compare his movement today with the movement in just about any other game. His curve today had about an inch more vertical movement and an inch less horizontal movement, both of which are positive developments.
And that's been the pattern over the last four starts. He's really tightened that pitch up. It's not right to say that Zito is Zito is Zito, like I've been doing most of the year. There's something noticeably different going on.
He's still allowing runners, though. He allowed 11 in 5.2 innings today. They were just in the right permutation. They might not be next time. It's always a bad idea to look at a four-start stretch as proof of anything, but I'm scared that Zito will be in a postseason rotation. There have been, like, six different four-start stretches where anyone reading this would have said anything resembling "I'd almost be confident with Barry Zito in a playoff rotation!" This just happens to be one of those stretches.
He's probably still the fifth-best starting pitcher on the Giants roster.
It's still nice to see him contribute, though. Six years in, and he's still contributing in his own way. That's pretty amazing.
The Giants are done with the Rockies, right? So, I'm not jinxing anything? Okay, okay. Come here. Closer. Closer. Don't repeat this.
Cool, cool. You can go about your business.