Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 7, Rockies 0

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 7, Rockies 0

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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.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 4-1 loss to Cubs

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 4-1 loss to Cubs

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — The rain stayed away Tuesday after an initial delay of just over an hour. Once the first pitch was thrown, the Giants you watched over the previous week pulled a similar disappearing act. 

The lineup had no answer for Jon Lester, who threw a 99-pitch complete game and led the Cubs to a 4-1 win in two hours and five minutes. On the other side, the Cubs bashed three homers off Johnny Cueto, who still hasn’t found that 2016 groove. 

Here are five things to know from Wrigley, where tarp management is no longer a problem … 

--- Cueto gave up three homers for the first time since joining the Giants. It started with Kyle Schwarber’s 470-foot blast onto Sheffield that the Cubs said was the first to reach the street since 2014. The pitches Schwarber, Jason Heyward and Anthony Rizzo crushed had one thing in common: All were left right over the heart of the plate. 

--- Cueto became just the fourth Giants pitcher in the last 15 years to strike out at least eight but also give up three homers. Jeff Samardzija did it earlier this season against the Diamondbacks.

--- Addison Russell started a double play on Brandon Crawford in the second inning that gave Crawford a taste of what it’s like to hit a ball up the middle against the Giants. A year ago, Russell led NL shortstops in the SABR Defensive Index, which is a chunk of Gold Glove voting. This year, he leads the NL with nine Defensive Runs Saved; Crawford is at four. Personally I think Cincinnati’s Zack Cozart is the second best defensive shortstop in the NL, but Russell is certainly the guy who is the biggest threat to Crawford winning a third straight Gold Glove. 

--- The Lester Yips thing gets talked about quite a bit … but it should probably be talked about more. It’s simply incredible that one of the best pitchers in the world refuses to throw to first. Lester didn’t even move off the mound when Buster Posey hit a slow roller in the second, forcing his catcher to make a much tougher play. In the seventh Posey hit a similar ball and this time Lester had no choice; he fielded the ball and threw underhanded to first.

--- Josh Osich did not shave his mustache, he simply grew the rest out until he had a beard. It’s the smarter way to go. This way Osich still has the stache in his back pocket if the team needs some luck. He pitched a scoreless eighth, striking Schwarber out with a nasty slider.

 

Giants lineup: Ruggiano moves up against lefty Lester

Giants lineup: Ruggiano moves up against lefty Lester

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for Game 2 of the four-game series in Chicago:

Giants (20-26)
1. Joe Panik (L) 2B
2. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Eduardo Nunez (R) LF
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P (4-3, 4.50 ERA)

Cubs (22-21)
1. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
2. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Ian Happ (S) CF
6. Jason Heyward (L) RF
7. Willson Contreras (R) C
8. Addison Russell (R) SS
9. Jon Lester (L) P (2-2, 3.57 ERA)