At first glance, Barry Zito’s outing Thursday looked like another hair-pulling, aggravating Zito-esque outing — five runs on seven hits on 74 pitches over three innings.
But there are two things to remember: One, it’s still preseason, so it doesn’t count; Two, Zito was very close to giving up just one run on Thursday.
That’s kind of Zito’s M.O. — he walks along a fine line between quality start and implosion.
Let’s take a close look at Zito’s three innings on Thursday.
In the first inning, things started out well enough, as Zito set down the first two batters he faced. But things began to go bad the way they usually do with Zito, with a two-out walk. Kevin Kouzmanoff followed with an RBI double off the right field wall. But then it looked like Zito would get out of the inning after going 0-2 on Kurt Suzuki. Suzuki turned on a Zito fastball, and ripped it foul down the left-field line. Zito tried to come inside again off the plate, presumably to set up a 1-2 curveball. But it caught too much of the plate and Suzuki yanked it out for a 3-0 lead.
Zito set down the side in order in the second.
Zito gave up two more runs in the third, but the first run was on Zito and the second should have been charged to manager Bruce Bochy.
Coco Crisp led off with a double to left. Zito tried to pick him off second (why???) and threw it away, sending Crisp to third.
Then Bochy decided it best to play the infield in with a runner on third and no one out. The brilliant strategy allowed Rajai Davis to reach on a bloop single that would have been caught by 2B Juan Uribe if he were playing at his normal position.
Davis then stole second and took third on the first out of the inning. With a runner on third and one out, Bochy again played the infield in and Kevin Kouzmanoff singled to left on a ground ball that would have a ground out to short if the infield were playing back.
The A’s got two more hits in the inning on balls that were not hit out of the infield before Zito escaped with no more damage.
So basically in the third, Zito gave up a clean double to Crisp and four singles on balls that all should have been outs.
LEWIS DL-BOUND? Fred Lewis appears headed for the DL to start the season with a rib injury that his limiting to little more than running work.
Lewis hit off a tee Thursday and reported he’ll need more time to get ready to play.
Bochy said the Giants wouldn’t push Lewis and would know more on his status in a couple of days.
Well, we’d hope so since the Giants face at 6 p.m. deadline Saturday to set their 25-man roster for the 2010 season.
Lewis said the injury is keeping him from taking full hacks at the ball, which isn’t a lot different from when he’s healthy.
And speaking of Lewis, check out this blog post by Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle on Lewis and his OBP. There’s been a lot of chatter about how the Giants must keep and play Lewis because his OBP was about 100 points higher than his batting average.
We think Giant fans are just starved for ANYONE in the lineup who can show some plate discipline. But, as Schulman shows, Lewis gets his high walk total by striking out WAY TO MUCH (particularly on called third strikes), not to mention his struggles in the field. Great post Hank.
SANCHEZ DELAYED: Bochy said that 2B Freddy Sanchez won’t be ready to begin a minor-league rehab assignment for another 3-4 weeks. That effectively takes Sanchez out of the Giants lineup until May at the earliest. Ugh.
Good thing we’ve got Juan Uribe.
You know, More Splash Hits, often sits around with bags of ice on his various aches and pains. You think maybe Brian Sabean would be willing to give us a few million to do that?