The Giants will go for the sweep of the Padres on Sunday afternoon with Barry Zito locking horns with Eric Stults.
Zito’s first hiccup of the season came in ugly fashion against the Brewers. The lefty was charged for nine earned runs in just 2.2 innings on Tuesday, which marked his first loss in more than eight months, including the postseason. The 16-game winning streak was bound to end at some point, though.
His ERA soared from 0.00 to 4.86 after the start. Luckily, it’s early, and Zito has the chance to improve his ERA against a Padres team that he owns a mediocre 4.80 ERA against in career 21 games (20 starts). His last 10 starts against San Diego, though, have been a struggle, as he’s 1-7 with a 5.97 ERA.
One thing’s for sure, the Barry Zito hate isn’t likely so resurface at AT&T Park.
Zito’s counterpart in Stults has won his last two starts against the Giants, and is 4-2 in nine lifetime starts. Back in 2009, he threw a four-hit shutout against San Francisco when he was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Keys For the Giants:
Buster Posey Needs To Hit
This is a pretty vague key, but Posey’s start to the season hasn’t been great. He’s hitting .231 on the season but .400 (2-for-5) during this so-far-brief homestand. Perhaps Posey will boost his stats with a left-hander on the mound today. In 2012, he hit .433 against southpaws.
Keep the Bases Clear for Chase Headley
Headley hit a home run off Madison Bumgarner on Friday night, but it was only a solo blast. Headley owns one career homer against Zito in 31 career at-bats. For the bases to be clear for him, Zito must keep Denorfia, who’s a career .444 (4-for-9) hitter against him, Will Venable, who’s 4-for-10 and Everth Cabrera, who’s 3-for-10, off the base paths. Outside of those few hitters, the Padres haven’t had much success against Zito.
The Giants are 8-1 when they get on the board first, and there are a couple of reasons for that robust record. One, their primary bullpen corps get into the game to close the door. Two, the starter pitches with more confidence, especially at home where someone like Zito can get away with a few mistakes.
Joaquin Arias Needs To Continue His Success Against Lefties, Stults.
Arias is in the lineup today instead of Brandon Belt, who has just five hits in his last 24 at-bats. Arias has started in just two games. I’m just speculating, but I bet Bruce Bochy came across Arias’s .313 career batting average against lefties and decided to play the splits. Plus, he’s 4-for-10 with one home run off Stults in his career.
If Arias provides a good bottom of the order presence, the table will be set for the top of the lineup.