Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 7, Rockies 0

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 7, Rockies 0

BOX SCORE

DENVER Youd assume that Barry Zito and Coors Field go together like stepladders and margarine.

Crazy. Dangerous. Someone really should intercede before someone gets hurt. That kind of stuff.

But you might be surprised to learn that Zito owns the Colorado Rockies over his career. He owned them again Monday afternoon. And at least to start the 2012 season, he owns the title of staff stopper.

The Giants beat Colorado 7-0 in the Rockies home opener on Monday, they avoided starting 0-4 for the first time since 1950 and they had Zito to thank for it. Despite having just two bullpen sessions and one minor league camp game to reinvent himself, Zito rebounded from his disastrous spring with a result that nobody could have predicted.

He threw a four-hit shutout his first in six seasons as a Giant. He had done it just four other times in his career, and not since April 18, 2003 at Texas, when he still wore green and gold.

Starting pitching report
Zito only allowed two runners into scoring position in a 112-pitch masterpiece. He didnt abandon all elements of the delivery he developed with pitching guru Tom House over the winter, staying in a crouched position especially from the stretch. But he made enough changes to ensure he could repeat his delivery, throw strikes and keep the ball below the belt.

Zito improved to 6-2 with a 2.39 ERA in 18 career games against the Rockies. He hasnt lost to Colorado since 2008 a span of 11 appearances (nine starts).

He began the ninth with 102 pitches with Brian Wilson all warmed up in the bullpen. But he didnt allow a baserunner and he got Todd Helton to ground out to third base to end it. Zito was a picture of relaxation as he accepted a hug from catcher Hector Sanchez and then an emphatic embrace from first baseman Aubrey Huff.

It was Zitos third complete game as a Giant and the 12th of his career.

Bullpen report
Guillermo Mota put on a uniform and everything, too.

At the plate
Pablo Sandoval hit a two-run home run in the first inning, marking his fifth homer in his last five games at Coors Field. Hector Sanchez posted his first career multi-hit game, including an RBI single in a two-run third inning after Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin walked the bases loaded.

Brandon Crawford provided more breathing room in the fifth inning with a bases-clearing double after shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez both committed errors that helped to load em up.

Crawfords hit came off a lefty pitcher, too another encouraging sign that hell be more than a good glove at shortstop.

In fact, before Sanchez singled off Greg Reynolds in the fifth inning, the Giants had been 0 for 19 against left-handed pitchers this season.

The Giants have scored at least four runs in all four games this season. Thats something they managed to do in just two stretches of four or more games last year, when they scored the fewest runs in the NL.

Even Zito hit a cue-shot single, inspiring mass laughter and cheering in the Giants dugout.
In the field
Sandoval made a diving stop of leadoff hitter Marco Scutaros hot grounder, giving Zito a chance to settle in and continue pitching from the windup. Crawford made a diving catch of pinch hitter Eric Young Jr.s line drive in the fifth.

Center fielder Angel Pagan dropped a shallow pop fly for an error leading off the sixth, but Zito pitched out of trouble.

Attendance
The Rockies sold out the joint for their home opener. They announced 49,282 paid. Roughly 40,000 fell mute after the third inning.

Up next
The Giants and Rockies have a scheduled day off Tuesday, which is often the case in April series at Coors Field in case of snow. Thankfully for all parties, it was sunny with a high of 70 degrees on Monday and the forecast calls for more of the same the remainder of the week.

Tim Lincecum (0-1, 8.44) will take the mound against right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (1-0. 3.86) when the series resumes Wednesday night. First pitch is at 5:40 p.m. PDT.

As Samardzija ages, it isn't as easy to lose the weight gained in offseason

As Samardzija ages, it isn't as easy to lose the weight gained in offseason

Jeff Samardzija is entering Year 2 of the five-year contract he signed with the Giants following the 2015 season.

With spring training underway, what is the hardest part about getting his body and mind prepared for the upcoming campaign?

"The pitching aspects of things, the older I get, the more they kind of just fall right in line with feeling my mechanics out," Samardzija explained on KNBR 680 on Wednesday morning. "For me, it's probably the cardio (laughter). The older I get, the more I realize that you put more weight on in the offseason, then it's a little harder to get off.

"You hear about it, right? You hear about it all the time when you're younger ... and my offseasons, I like to have offseasons. I don't watch my calories. I don't watch my intake (I don't really watch any of that anyways). But the offseason -- I have fun, I relax ... then you get working out again and usually those first five or six poles, two-mile runs, camelback hikes -- they're always pretty interesting the first couple times."

The former college wide receiver is listed at 225 pounds.

Samardzija turned 32 years old in January and is entering his 10th big-league season.

He went 12-11 with a 3.81 ERA over 32 starts last year.

Over his final 10 starts, he went 3-3 with a 2.45 ERA.

"The splitter came back for me there toward the end of the year," Samardzija said. "I kind of brought the curveball in to not replace, but kind of take up some of the space of the splitter that wasn't there.

"And then come September, the splitter showed up and then we had the curveball and we ran with it from there."

Key Giants lefty reliever Smith sidelined by elbow inflammation

Key Giants lefty reliever Smith sidelined by elbow inflammation

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For years, the Giants would give Sergio Romo time off during spring training to make sure his tender elbow would be ready for opening day. Romo is now a Dodger, but one of the men tasked with replacing those eighth-inning outs has been shut down. 

Will Smith won't throw for about a week because of inflammation in his left elbow. Manager Bruce Bochy said an MRI came back clean, but Smith won't pitch in a game for two to three weeks. The Giants are confident, however, that Smith will be ready for opening day. Because of the long spring, the staff has mapped out a schedule where Smith can return and make six spring appearances before the regular season. 

Any setbacks would strike a big blow to the bullpen. Smith, 27, is supposed to be a key part of the revamped group. The Giants acquired him at the deadline last season hoping he turns into the next Jeremy Affeldt, a lefty capable of facing left- and right-handed hitters.

After a slow start in San Francisco last August, Smith ended the regular season with 18 consecutive scoreless appearances. The Giants entered camp with Smith set to share the eighth-inning role with right-handers Derek Law and Hunter Strickland.