SAN FRANCISCO -- Once again, Giant fans have discovered that nothing is forever, nothing is certain, nothing is guaranteed.And yes, that metaphorical middle finger is Barry Zitos.Only three days after Giant fans lost the right to worry about the end of Tim Lincecums career, they settled into old and familiar ground kicking Zito while he was taking a knee.So of course Zito rose from his Tebonic position Monday and shut out the Los Angeles Dodgers for seven innings in an 8-0 win.INSTANT REPLAY: Giants 8, Dodgers 0
Yes, seven. Barry Zito. Thats right. Dont argue with us.Now we grant you these are not the Dodgers of April or May. They have hit a wall and are holding on the best record in the National league only because Washington and Cincinnati cant close on them.But the Giants, as members of the National League, cant exactly claim juggernaut status either. They have burrowed into the wild card race by having just enough hitting and just enough pitching to be neither the Astros nor the Rockies, and they have done this largely without Lincecum or, for the last three starts, Zito.Well, Lincecum bottomed out Friday night before restoring himself with five shutout innings against the Oaklands, and Zito stopped his latest freefall with seven innings of three-hit, three-walk work against the Giants ancestral rivals.Just in time to take him off the waffle iron of death, it seems.And now Giant fans are temporarily lost, for there is no starting pitcher for them to pace nervously about, and that makes them jumpy.The Giants have been starting pitcher-loaded for years now, and if it werent for Zitos elephantine contract, theyd have had nothing to complain about at all in this area. He was the gift that kept on giving, year in and year out. Indeed, some folks consider his high-water mark as a Giant not being a disruptive influence when he was left off the 2010 postseason roster.But he fooled them in 2012 and churned up decent outing after decent outing, building up a measure of hesitant good will while collecting the paychecks that so outrage the citizens.Then he hit what seemed to be his annual wall, losing to the Rangers, Astros and Angels in succession, each with worse numbers than the outing before it. He had hit E in June, the populace cackled. He was Zito again.And well, maybe he was. Then again, we might have been grading on a harsh curve for him against the Rangers and Angels, who are loaded with hitters and have abused the games best. The loss to Houston . . . well, he has to own that one.Still, three straight losses jacked his record from 5-2 to 5-5, and his ERA from 2.98 to 4.35, so he came into Mondays start prepared to disappoint the audience. And therefore give the audience what it expected to see.Then he walked Dee Gordon to start the game on five pitches, and promptly exceededundershot expectations. Oh yeah . . . this was going to be a meltdown for the epoch.Except he got Elian Herrera to ground into a double play. The he got Andre Ethier to ground to short. Then after walking Juan Rivera and A.J. Ellis in the second, he beat the reaper with a strikeout and two modest fly balls, and wasnt troubled again until the seventh.He was Un-Zito again, as he was before, and the crowd that knew what was coming when they entered the ballpark left slack-jawed and confused by what they had been given instead. Zito had Vogelsong-ed the audience but good.Now we could try to break the game down to explain how Zito performed this tour de bras, but weve heard it all before. Lets just say he suckered the audience one more time in this bizarre season, and is back in their good graces until Saturday against another longtime fan favorite, Cincinnatis Mat Latos.And yes, its Acid Reflux Day at the ballpark, so bring your kids and your enraged stomachs. Itll be a party for everyone.