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Thursday BP: The 8-year anniversary of Barry Zito’s comeback

The Giants pitcher made his first start after an injury riddled 2011 season

San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies

After winning the World Series in 2010, the San Francisco Giants 2011 campaign wasn’t a total disappointment, but definitely not a success either.

No one knew about the “even-year” Giants at this point, but going into the 2012 season, San Francisco still had championship aspirations, although it didn’t start of well.

The Giants were swept in the their season opening series against the defending NL West champion Arizona Diamondbacks.

San Francisco continued its road trip against the Colorado Rockies, with pitcher Barry Zito taking the mound for the fourth game of the season on April 9, 2012.

It was Zito’s sixth year with the Giants and he was coming off an ugly, injury filled 2011 season, after struggling down the stretch in 2010 and not contributing in the postseason.

Zito returned from injury and came out of the bullpen on September 11, 2011. He didn’t start a game down the stretch and was lit up with a 9.00 ERA during his final four games, prompting those around the baseball world if he was done.

His spring training performance was concerning leading up to the season, but manager Bruce Bochy’s confidence in Zito didn’t wain, and he was the No. 4 starter.

It is never easy to pitch on the road in Colorado, so there was some angst about Zito making his first start in nearly nine months.

Pablo Sandoval gave his pitcher an early lead, smacking a two-run shot in the first inning off ofRockies starter Jhoulys Chacin, giving San Francisco an early 2-0 lead.

The Giants scored two more in the third, giving Zito a 4-0 cushion, which is more than what would need.

Zito gave up back-to-back singles with two outs in the bottom of the third, bur recovered by striking out Dexter Fowler to end the the threat.

The Rockies got one more hit in the fourth, but Troy Tulowitzki was left stranded. San Francisco added three more in the fifth to go up 7-0.

That is the way the score would finish.

The great outing was a comeback for Zito, who pitched a shutout for the first time in nine years, only giving up four hits in nine innings of work.

“It was really satisfying,” Zito said after the game in the AP recap. “I had a tough spring and made the adjustment I had to make and I think my start in the minor leagues last week had a lot to do with it, just being able to work on stuff without worrying about getting guys out.”

Zito finished the season 15-8 and his resurgence continued the playoffs, where this time he played a big role in the Giants winning 2012 World Series.

Now onto some more Giants links:

Why Gabe Kapler feels Giants will return with same strong spring energy (NBC Bay Area)

Will Clark becomes legendary in Giants’ debut (Mercury News)

Ever wondered what happened to Ashkon, creator of Giants postseason anthem? (NBC Bay Area)