Barry Zito entered unfamiliar, or relatively unfamiliar, territory on Friday night–the lefty had a successful spring training. In 18 innings, he tallied a 3.00 ERA against some fairly decent MLB competition.
In previous years, the whole spring training concept wasn’t Zito’s forte. With the exception of 2011, when he had a 2.30 in 27.1 innings, he has otherwise been awfully inconsistent, evidenced by his career 5.29 spring training ERA. Of course, it’s spring training, and baseball people are pretty ignorant when it comes to spring stats, and these people aren’t wrong.
However, Zito’s 2013 spring shouldn’t be overlooked.
After a memorable Game 5 performance against the St.Louis Cardinals in the NLCS and a solid effort against the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, Giants fans want Zito to consistently twirl these types of performances in 2013–well, not quite as good as he was against the Cardinals, but you get the drift.
Well, a solid outing against the Oakland A’s on Friday was a step towards a successful 2013 campaign. He pitched 5.1 innings and allowed one earned run on three walks and three hits. No, not anything to go crazy about by any stretch of the imagination. Still, it’s an encouraging sign.
Derek Norris made loud contract off Zito in the fourth inning to draw first blood. Luckily for Zito, Norris’s screaming line drive was hit directly at Gregor Blanco in left field. Instead of a one-run double, he was forced to settle with a sacrifice fly.
Before yielding a run in the fourth, Zito was vintage Zito in the third inning. He didn’t draw any swings and misses, but used just nine pitches to get three outs–two groundouts and one fly out.
The Giants stringed together four consecutive hits in the fifth inning to tie the score at one. A.J. Griffin struck out both Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt in order to begin the inning. But Brandon Crawford doubled and Gregor Blanco tripled him in. Then Nick Noonan, who was reported to have made the Opening Day roster after the game, singled Blanco home. Only Angel Pagan’s single went to waste.
Pagan would be compensated in the eighth inning, though. Noonan tripled to lead-off the inning, and Pagan followed him with a line drive single to right field, giving the Giants a 3-1 lead.
Sergio Romo closed the door on the A’s in the ninth. No torture, no base runners, no nothing. He struck out two, and his slider looked in mid-season form.
The Giants will finish the exhibition series tomorrow in Oakland. I would suspect that some of the regulars won’t be in the lineup with Opening Day on Monday.