If there were truly some sort of Padres curse, you know how this sequence would have ended in the top of the fourth:
Denorfia - lunging looper to center field
Bartlett - infield hit
First and third, no outs, and there wasn't a ball hit hard enough to break a pane of glass. Padres!
But they didn't score. Part of that was because of a blown call on Bartlett's attempted steal, but Zito still got a pop-out and a strikeout. Nothing. The Padres had to have been stunned.
And it was Barry Zito on the mound. The sixth starter. The Roman god of expensive afterthoughts. In his last eight starts against the Padres, he'd allowed 25 earned runs and 21 walks in 41 innings. If he had pitched well in his last game against the Padres, I sincerely wonder if he would have made the postseason roster, and possibly even started over Madison Bumgarner. Probably not, but experience is the kind of wine that can make a manager sleep in a dumpster behind an Arby's when the night is done. So, so intoxicating.
As it happened, though, Zito laid an egg in that last start of 2010. Then the egg hatched, and a horrific, scaly, beaked abomination popped out holding a sign that read "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, YOU CANNOT TRUST BARRY ZITO IN A PLAYOFF GAME. WHAT, ARE YOU HIGH?" Bochy can make some curious decisions, but the beaked thing had this look, you know. It was telling the truth. You could see it in its eyes.
Then, after Zito's first injury as a major leaguer, came the Vogelsong revolution. It's such a good story. It's a Horatio Alger story, except the riches part of the rags-to-riches story are mostly metaphorical to this point. Barry Zito isn't really a good story. He was paid a lot of money to go somewhere, and he did it. We'd all do that. Worst screenplay idea ever. More like Boratio Alger, right?
But I really did feel bad for Zito last year, and I felt worse when he got wallypipped this year. Money is really, really, really, really awesome, but, yeah. You know the guy has a good measure of professional pride. You know that for his entire life, he was always one of the best players on the field. Then to fall into Mediocre Canyon so abruptly, to watch a team win a World Series without your help has to just sting.
Zito. What a game. Three earned runs, two walks, and five strikeouts in seven innings is a fine start. He shoul ... wait, sorry, I was looking at the team-adjusted stats. One earned run, no walks, and seven strikeouts? Just fantastic. Especially considering that the bullpen had to pitch eight innings yesterday. A three-inning and done start would have been a disaster. He didn't just chew up innings, though, he had one of his better starts as a Giant. Has to feel good. He should probably be an All-Star if an opening comes up.
If Zito can keep the control and command ... welcome to the bullpen, Jonathan. Population: you.