If there’s one thing Giants fans have come to expect so far in the 2012 season, it’s the unexpected.
Backdropped against the prosect of the Giants possibly enduring their first 0-4 start since 1950, backdropped against the fact that Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain have ERAs of 8.44, 9.00 and 6.50, backdropped against a spring in which Zito was basically throwing batting practice in his final two outings, Barry Zito threw an absolute gem that goes beyond defying logic.
“Just when you think you’ve seen it all in baseball …” Aubrey Huff said without finishing his sentence.
He didn’t have to. Zito did all the finishing Monday.
The historic perspective is staggering.
- It was Zito’s first complete-game shutout since 2003, four years before signing a $126 million deal with the Giants
- It was Zito’s first complete game in which he did not issue a walk since his rookie season in 2000.
- He became the first Giants pitcher to throw a shutout in the 18 year history of Coors Field.
- He became the second visiting pitcher to throw a shutout at Coors in the past 13 seasons, joining Roy Oswalt.
“It was really satisfying,” Zito said. “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 needed 112 pitches to get through nine innings. He only gave up four hits. With a couple of breaks, Zito could have taken a perfect game into the sixth inning, a no-hitter into the seventh.
In the third inning, Rockies pitcher Jhoulys Chacin reached on a swinging bunt that Zito couldn’t get to in time to throw him out.
Marco Scutaro followed with a single up the middle that Zito should have snared. In the fourth, Troy Tulowitzki hit a shot to third base that glanced off Pablo Sandoval.
Did Zito think any of this was possible?
“Yeah sure,” Zito said. “I mean, anything’s possible.”
Almost lost in all the Zito excitement was the fact the Giants scored seven more runs and pounded out 10 more hits. Pablo Sandoval belted another homer, Aubrey Huff had a double and two walks, Hector Sanchez went 2 for 5 in his season debut, Brandon Crawford had a three-run triple. Every Giant collected at least one hit (including Zito) except Gregor Blanco.
The Giants are 1-3 despite outscoring opponents 21-17.
“Not a personal thing, but from a team standpoint, it feels great especially to win in the fashion we did,” Zito said. “We had good at-bats early. We just played good baseball overall today. It’s a good feeling to motivate us to keep it going.”
Sounds good to us.
After a day off Tuesday, Tim Lincecum returns to the mound to face Jeremy Guthrie as the Giants face the Rockies at 5:40 p.m. Wednesday.