Kruk & Kuip: Just a weird night for Zito
Pablo Sandoval went 0-for-4 in addition to his throwing error in the first inning. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
TORONTO – Barry Zito gave up the most hits by a Giants starting pitcher in almost five years Tuesday night. He got battered for six runs in the first inning alone. He wore a facial expression in the dugout that was a mix of “anger,” “disappointment” and “Leafs fan.”
If you told him he was pulled an out away from an official quality start, it probably wouldn’t have made him feel better.
There was nothing quality about the Giants’ performance in a 10-6 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. They committed two errors and countless more miscues, some of them in the outfield where their erratic defense is becoming more than just a casual concern.
The entire team played glazed over – even catcher Buster Posey, who made the embarrassing mistake of starting an around-the-horn to third base after Colby Rasmus took a called second strike in the seventh inning.
The Giants set a season high by striking out 15 times against R.A. Dickey and Co., too. Brandon Crawford became the first Giant to fit himself for the four-strikeout Golden Sombrero since Ryan Theriot last June.
It took Pablo Sandoval’s three-run home run in the ninth inning just to make the score a little prettier.
But the Blue Jays didn’t blow every bit of a lead that stood at eight runs through seven innings. Toronto teams are only allowed one epic collapse every 48 hours.
Starting pitching report
The last time a Giants pitcher gave up a dozen hits, it was Kevin Correia on July 23, 2008 – and they still managed to beat the Washington Nationals.
Here’s guessing they played a bit crisper on that day.
Zito (3-2) was not sharp at all, leaving blobs outside at the belt that the Blue Jays’ right-handed hitters kept stinging to right field. But he received little defensive support as the Giants looked bewildered, whether it was by the synthetic surface, the harsh indoor lighting or the fact they have $2 coins here.
Three of the six runs Zito allowed in the first inning were unearned. His day began when Sandoval, the third baseman, fielded Melky Cabrera’s grounder to his left and rushed an off-balance throw for a two-base error.
The Blue Jays sent 10 more batters to the plate before Zito got to acquaint himself with the dugout bench again. Mixed amid the six singles and a walk were a bobble in center field by Angel Pagan, a wild throw from right fielder Hunter Pence and a potential double-play ball that stuck in the glove of second baseman Nick Noonan as he lost his footing on the bag.
You could summarize the inning this way: Baserunner Edwin Encarnacion hit the dirt while avoiding getting hit by a line drive off the bat of cleanup hitter (you’re reading this right) Mark DeRosa, then he scored anyway when Pagan flubbed it in center field.
By the fifth inning, eight of the Blue Jays’ nine starting position players had a hit.
But Zito did well to recover and at least prevent the Giants bullpen from getting run through – a helpful service, considering the club begins a four-game series at Coors Field on Thursday.
Amazingly, Zito finished one out away from the minimum standards of a quality start – at least six innings, no more than three earned runs. He was pulled with two outs and two runners aboard in the sixth.
Those runners scored when the defense had another letdown. Encarnacion hit a hard line drive to right field, Pence appeared to take a tentative route, and the ball soared beyond his reach for a double.
Adam Lind followed with a grounder that took a high bounce off the mound and shortstop Brandon Crawford couldn’t barehand it, bringing in another run.
Kontos was charged with two runs and Jose Mijares threw a scoreless inning as the Giants managed to save all their frontline relievers.
At the plate
Dickey won the Lowest Average Fastball Velocity Bowl, and it wasn’t even close. The struggling 2012 Cy Young Award winner had one of his better starts while keeping enough of a lid on the Giants through his six innings.
Brandon Belt hit a solo home run and an RBI double, making him 7 for 15 with six RBIs over his past five games.
Marco Scutaro stayed hot as well, hitting three singles to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. He has a .491 average during the streak. He owns multiple hits in seven consecutive games, too.
But the heart of the order, Sandoval and Buster Posey, were 0 for 8 before the Panda went deep in the ninth.
In addition to the calamities already described, there was Maicer Izturis’ double off Gregor Blanco’s glove in left field in the fifth inning.
At least Nick Noonan made a full-extension dive to take a hit away from Henry Blanco in the sixth. It made little difference in the outcome, but it made a big difference to Blue Jays’ Blanco was the only starter who didn’t have a hit.
The Blue Jays delighted a crowd of 31,753 by holding onto an eight-run lead.
The Giants and Blue Jays complete this little two-game series Wednesday night at the House Formerly Known as SkyDome. Ryan Vogelsong (1-3, 7.78 ERA) takes the mound against right-hander Ramon Ortiz (0-1. 3.24). The Blue Jays decided to push back right-hander Brandon Morrow, who is dealing with recurring upper back spasms.