A rare thing happened Sunday at AT&T Park, something Giants fans haven’t seen in the past five-plus seasons.
Manager Bruce Bochy came out of the dugout to pull Barry Zito from the game after Zito walked a batter, and the crowd at AT&T booed.
OK, that’s not so rare. But try this on for size.
They booed Bruce Bochy.
Zito threw 8 1/3 scoreless innings Sunday. But after giving up a one-out walk to Darwin Barney, Zito was pulled despite throwing only 96 pitches.
“Your heart’s telling you ‘Hey, give him a shot” at the shutout, Bochy said. “But your brain’s telling you the right thing to do is go get him and bring in (Sergio) Romo.”
In other words, if the Giants were up 6-0, Bochy leaves Zito in the game. But with the tying run at the plate, calling on Romo was the right call.
Romo struck out Starling Castro and got Alfonso Soriano to hit a come-backer for the final outs.
So Zito’s chance for a second shutout this season went by the wayside. But thanks to Romo, he did get the victory to improve to 5-2.
And while he’s at it, Zito should also thank Soriano for the win. Thanks to the outfielder’s inept defense, the Giants were able to put two runs on the board.
The first defensive lapse by Soriano came in the fifth inning when the Giants were still searching for their first hit off Travis Wood.
Angel Pagan hit a deep liner to left that just about any other left fielder in the National League (yes, perhaps even Aubrey Huff) should have been able to catch. But Soriano didn’t read it right and his sore legs allowed the ball to sail over his head for a double, extending Pagan’s franchise-record home hitting streak to 27 games.
One out later, Joaquin Arias, who had been 3 for 17 with two outs and runners in scoring position, slapped a single to right. Cubs right fielder Reed Johnson threw home and the ball appeared to arrive just ahead of the sliding Pagan at home, but catcher Koyie Hill could not corral the throw, and Pagan scored the game’s first run.
It stayed 1-0 until the eighth when Gregor Blanco walked with one out. Blanco was running with the pitch when Melky Cabrera singled to left. Blanco motored to third, and when Soriano was slow getting to the ball and then threw it into second, Blanco raced all the home for a 2-0 lead.
It would surprise us to see Soriano sitting on the bench Monday afternoon.
But that should distract us much from the solid outing from Zito. The lefty lowered his ERA to 2.98 after giving up just four hits and two walks, while fanning five.
Zito’s outing shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, especially given the opponent.
One of Zito’s three victories in 2011 came against the Cubs on June 28, when Zito was making his first start in more than two months on the DL. On that day, he limited the Cubs to two runs on four hits in seven innings in a 6-3 Giants win in Wrigley Field.
In his next start Friday at AT&T, Zito will get the opportunity to do something he didn’t get the chance to do in 2010 — pitch against the Texas Rangers.
The Giants will try to go for the sweep and post their first four-game winning streak of the season when they send Ryan Vogelsong against Jeff Samardzija at 12:45 p.m. Monday.