Instant Replay: Nightmare season continues for Zito

Instant Replay: Nightmare season continues for Zito
August 26, 2013, 8:15 pm
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Barry Zito's final stat line: 4 IP, 5 ER, 9 H, BB, K, LOSS (USA TODAY IMAGES)

BOX SCORE

DENVER – Remember how the Giants won their very first game in 2012? When Barry Zito threw that shutout at Coors Field that you couldn’t have seen coming with a crystal ball, a time machine and a clairvoyant relative?

Well, lightning didn’t strike twice on the Colorado plateau.

Zito made his 10th start away from AT&T Park and remained winless in them. The Rockies blasted two home runs while scoring five times against Zito in four innings, and the Giants’ slow-swinging lineup went flat at Mile High in a 6-1 loss at Coors Field.

In a metaphorical moment that Charles Schulz would have appreciated, the sprinklers went off as Zito prepared to throw a pitch in the fourth. This happened moments after second baseman Marco Scutaro, whose defense has degraded at an alarming rate, fumbled a rather routine double-play grounder that should have ended the inning.

And just before that, center fielder Gregor Blanco didn’t lay out for a bases-loaded blooper.

Everything went so right for Zito in the second half last year, when the Giants won his last 11 regular-season starts, then grabbed Ws in each of his three playoff assignments. But all that fortune and fuel got burned up before the return voyage could get started.

Now he’s near the end, and you wonder how he’s going to last another month.

Starting pitching report
Remember when #RallyZito was a runaway trend?

Zito already trailed 3-0 entering the fourth, courtesy of Todd Helton’s two-run home run in the second and Charlie Blackmon’s solo shot in the third. Helton’s shot was his 2,497th career hit, and the first time he’s taken Zito deep in his career (He had been just a .185 hitter in 27 at-bats against the left-hander.)

The fourth inning began with bases loaded and no outs after the Rockies sandwiched two singles around a walk. After a mound visit from Dave Righetti, Zito offered a glimmer of hope he might escape when Jonathan Herrera popped up to shortstop Brandon Crawford. But Juan Nicasio, the opposing pitcher, sent a belt-high pitch to the outfield. If Blanco had managed a diving catch, he could’ve doubled the runner off second base. But it bounced at his feet as a run scored. And Scutaro was no more help as he allowed another to cross the plate.

Zito (4-10) is winless in 11 starts since May 30. Over his last six starts, he’s allowed 27 runs in just 23 2/3 innings. And he has a 9.41 ERA in those 10 starts away from AT&T Park.

Bullpen report
Remember when the Giants bullpen protected one-run leads, and every out was a tense, passing of the baton from one skilled reliever to the next?

Instead, it was a Moscozito kind of night.

Guillermo Moscoso soaked up two scoreless innings, but Jose Mijares allowed a run to score when he made a throw to first base that was as ill-advised as it was errant.

At the plate
Remember when the sight of Scutaro in the rain stirred magical feelings?

He batted amid a sudden downpour in the seventh inning – this time you couldn’t blame the guy from the Buffalo Wild Wings commercials – and there was no head tilt to the heavens. Only a walk to the dugout after he couldn’t catch up to Nicasio’s fastball.

That’s been a common issue as the Giants offense has struggled ever since late May. Nicasio held them to five hits in seven innings.

The Giants were one out away from getting shut out for just the fifth time in 156 games at Coors Field (and second time this season). But Francisco Peguero hit a single, advanced on defensive indifference (because general indifference isn’t a scoring term?) and scored on Joaquin Arias’ pinch double.

In field
Well at least nobody needs to ask themselves, “Remember when Hunter Pence could eat solid food?”

It was beyond scary in the first inning when Pence crashed into the right field fence while chasing Michael Cuddyer’s triple. His head snapped as his chest absorbed the impact, and he remained down on the track for several minutes while trying to catch his breath. He merely had the wind knocked out of him, and for that, the Giants can be very thankful.

Attendance
Remember when dinosaurs were supposed to be extinct? Someone tell Dinger, the Rockies mascot, so he can dip himself in the nearest tar pit. The Rockies announced 30,364 paid.

Up next
The Giants and Rockies continue their three-game series at Coors Field on Tuesday. Yusmeiro Petit (0-0, 3.38 ERA) takes the mound against right-hander Chad Bettis (0-2, 4.50). First pitch is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. PDT.

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