Last year at this time, I was busy explaining why there was absolutely no way Ryan Vogelsong was going to continue being successful, and how Barry Zito was perfectly fine. I open the post-game thread with this just so you know what kind of idiot you're dealing with.
I offer this as the definitive Barry Zito game. This is the one. Forget the nonsense last year. Forget the miserable spring, when he allowed 44 runners in 19 innings. I mean, 44 runners in 19 innings … but forget about that. And, just as important: Forget about the Coors Field shutout. Barry Zito is the kind of pitcher who will load the bases with two singles and a walk in the fifth inning of a game. Sometimes he'll get out of it. Sometimes he won't.
A facile way to put it is this: I expect his ERA to be 4.50 every year. That's a run every other inning. That's two runs every four innings. Three runs every six innings. That's what I want from Barry Zito. That's what I expect from Barry Zito. He threw five innings, walked three, and struck out two. That's, well …
That's Barry Zito. There's another year left. We're still in the middle of the saga right now, but closer to the end. Hopefully, our lowered expectations are still met*.
* Did you know there was a"hopefully" controversy? I didn't. People have too much time on their hands.
Hector Sanchez is still just a pup. But now I get what the Giants were worried about with Posey coming up after just a season-plus of minor-league experience. That isn't to say that they were right with Posey, nor is it to say that Sanchez shouldn't be in the majors. But a catcher who is rough around the edges is a bit of a time bomb. In terms of actual wins/losses? Probably not a huge deal. In the ninth inning of a one-run game? A bigger deal than you were willing to believe, at least at the time. Sanchez wasn't quite able to block a Javier Lopez ball in the dirt, and it put the tying run in scoring position.
Maybe that led to the walk after that, and maybe it lead to the Josh Thole single. Maybe it didn't. It's all chaos theory after that. Maybe if Sanchez blocks the breaking ball in the dirt, a scientist leaves the game early and gets in a car accident instead of discovering the cure for the pigeon flu that's going to kill us all! It's all a tangled, tangled web!
And then with the winning run coming home, Brandon Belt throws a hey-I-pitched-in-college ball to Sanchez, who hung on -- even though he had absolutely no business hanging on -- and everything's cool. That's how things even up in one inning. Man, how in the hell did he hang on to that?
And then Sergio Romo came in from the bullpen.
And then Romo got hit hard! I don't remember what that was like. Shut up, Eric Hinske. I wasn't talking to you.
I wasn't a fan of bringing in Huff and Hensley in a double-switch, mostly because Aubrey Huff, Defensive Replacement scares the absolute hell out of me, but also because I trust Romo more than Hensley, even after the two solid singles.
But Hensley might be the most impressive new Giant of the year so far. More than Melky. More than Hector. More than Angel. He was a former Giants farmhand, so you knew his minor-league stats. He's been a major leaguer for a while, so you know his stats in the majors. No one told us he had some freaky 88-m.p.h. backup two-seamer that he could control with his mind.
That might have been my favorite regular-season performance by a random spring-training invite since Tyler Walker struck out the side in Detroit. Or, FRGSPBARSTISTWSOTSID, to you.
I jot ideas down throughout the game, lest I be unprepared at the end. After the second inning, I had a little bit prepared about approach. See, I liked the Giants' approach in that inning. That isn't something I've typed for a year. Buster Posey hit a solid single. Hector Sanchez hit a solid single. Emmanuel Burriss worked out a walk. It was a patient inning, and all of the hitters looked like they knew what they were doing.
But it didn't work out that inning, even though Brandon Crawford hit one of the hardest line drives of his career. Then the Giants exploded for three runs in the next inning, and things seemed peachy. But they couldn't get a fourth run home (on third, no outs) in the same inning. And then they couldn't get another runner home from third with less than two outs in the fifth inning.
Complaining about all that is acceptable. But it's probably more important that they were getting the runners in the first place. There was a lull in the late innings, but this didn't feel like the typical low-scoring Giants game. It felt like the kind of low-scoring game that other teams might have. You know, the ones without the foreboding sense of doom.
The tenth-inning rally started with a walk, after all. That was the first time the Giants have walked in extra innings since Barry Bonds retired. Not looking that up. Pretty sure it's accurate.
Pop quiz: Who do you have more confidence in at the plate, Nate Schierholtz or Hector Sanchez? The stats say Schierholtz. Longer track record. More triple-A success. That's the logical conclusion.
But, yeah. I'm still a Sanchez fanboy. Note that the question wasn't Whiteside/Stewart vs. Sanchez. That's a poll question with a single answer.