You’re going to read a lot about Barry Zito’s pitching today, and that’s fine with me. You’re going to read a lot about his complete game shutout against the Rockies that netted the Giants their first win of the 2012 campaign. Zito, for the most part, was masterful in today’s win. His fastball didn’t crack 85 mph, but he mixed in his offspeed stuff and kept the Rockies hitters off balance the entire game. This is the blueprint game for Zito as a successful pitcher: throw strikes, mix speeds, and keep the ball down.
It was, after all, an impressive game from a pitching standpoint. Coors Field is a wonky place and anyone that can go in there and throw a complete game shutout gets my respect. The Giants have often said they want Zito to pitch more like Jamie Moyer — and crazy, ridiculous statement aside — Zito looked like a pretty good Moyer clone today.
Zito’s pitching wasn’t the most spectacular thing that I saw today. That would be this:
That’s Barry Zito hitting against Esmil Rogers in the 7th inning of today’s game. Rogers’ fastball average 94.4 mph last year. He’s got legitimate stuff. In 304 career plate appearances, Barry Zito owns a career slash-line of .101/.141/.101; he’s never had an extra-base hit and he’s struck out in a quarter of his career plate appearances (25.8% K/PA rate). Zito is a terrible hitting pitcher and if you’ve spent just two seconds watching him hit, you know why: his swings looks awful. It’s like he’s swinging a boat oar covered in honey. It’s bad.
And yet, for eight incredible swings, Zito made contact, and not only did he make contact, he got a basehit. After the jump, prepare for most awe-inspiring collection of .GIFS that you’ll ever see. (This post may kill your computer. You’ve been warned.)
Swing #1 – Foul – 95 mph four-seam fastball
So this is Barry Zito swinging a baseball bat. Sadly, I think this is probably one of the best swings he had. Solid contact, even if he was five seconds late on the pitch.
Swing #2 – Foul – 95 mph four-seam fastball
I’m not really sure Zito even meant to swing at this pitch. My theory is that he sneezed.
Swing #3 – Foul – 95 mph four-seam fastball
Hello. I’m a 95 mph fastball and you’re Barry Zito. The best part is when Zito stops to admire his well struck, and very foul, ball.
Swing #4 – Foul – 95 mph four-seam fastball
I call this “The Reverse Ichiro”.
Swing #5 – Foul – 95 mph four-seam fastball
On swing number five, Zito takes a healthy rip. The ball rolls four feet up the first base line. Foul. Children are starting to openly cry in the stands. People are freaking out.
Swing #6 – Foul – 96 mph four-seam fastball
Rogers ups his velocity to 96 mph. Zito harmlessly bats away his pitch into the left field stands. Things are starting to get weird.
Swing #7 – Foul – 90 mph slider
Rogers, exasperated, throws a slider. Zito slaps it up the first base line to stay alive. This at-bat has now gone on for three hours.
Swing #8 – Hit (!) – 89 mph slider
This it the light and the truth. This is all that is good in the world. This is Barry Zito poking a single into left field in slow motion. This is like looking into the face of God. This is the most spectacular thing ever.