Watching Barry Zito pitch in record-setting upper-90 degree weather sure is something. And by “something” I mean maybe the worst thing ever imaginable. The game starts. You find yourself sitting in the left field bleachers and it’s hot. Really, really hot. It’s the third inning and Barry Zito just walked a guy on four straight pitches. That guy is only hitting .220-something, so it makes a bunch of sense to walk him on four pitches. Don’t want to make him feel too bad about himself. The next thing you know, Andrew McCutchen cranks a triple into the left-center gap. Holy crap it’s really starting to get hot. You can see Barry Zito fidgeting about on the mound and you think, “Huh. I thought this was a Vogelsong start.” You realize it’s not a Vogelsong start. Neil Walker ropes a double, scoring McCutchen. You sweat a little more, shift in your seat some, and wonder if your wife will bail you out of jail after you run onto the field, screaming that you thought this was a Vogelsong start.
In the end, it was a perfectly Zito-y Zito start. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t terrible, it was Zito. Vintage Zito. You could smell it, swirl it in your glass a little, and give it a taste. Zito.
Game thoughts …
The first (and only) law of heckling states: I don’t care as long as you’re funny. Dear guy with the mullet-rat-tail hair abomination that was directly behind me, I submit that your clever remarks aren’t as witty as you might think they are. Yes, I realize that Melky Cabrera is standing in LF in front of us. You don’t have to repeatedly bleat out his name every time you see him. Get this, his jersey has his name on the back of it. I know, right? Totally rad that it’s there. I can see it! And I can read it! I feel bad that you’re a Pirates fan that’s had to suffer through 25 years of losing seasons – or something like that – but please just no. No. No. No.
PNC Park is actually a pretty great place to see a ball game. Of the new parks, it’s one of the best. The sightlines are good-to-great and the park has enough character to stand on its own (unlike the somewhat bland, but nice, Nationals Park). The food isn’t as good as AT&T’s, but not much is. I was disappointed in the beer selection. Unless I was looking in the wrong place, not much craft beer going on in Pittsburgh, which is a shame.
After watching Santiago Casilla meltdown in the District on Thursday night, I’m all for letting Romo try to close a few games here and there. Casilla, unavailable because of a blister, has done a nice job for the Giants as the fill-in closer, but it’s been clear lately that he’s been out of sync. Romo is the best reliever in the pen and if he’s healthy and the trick knee is feeling fine, then let him close. Even though the Giants historically have used Romo as a ROOGY, he’s performed well enough against left-handed batters in his career – 2.83 FIP, 3.94 xFIP – to warrant the move. The team looks poised to trade for a reliever in the second half, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Romo get the next handful of save opportunities, despite what he says. The Giants love few things more than bullpen stability.
Tonight, the bullpen largely did a good job. Kontos threw another clean inning and has been a welcome addition since he was called up to the team. He’s faced 47 batters this year while only walking one of them. Brad Penny looked like Brad Penny; the stadium gun had his fastball on the top-end around 91 miles per hour. Javier Lopez gave up the rare home run to a left-handed batter; his first homer allowed
to a LHB since he became a Giant (I stand corrected), so he gets a pass for now. On most nights the bullpen does a good enough job to get things done. This, thankfully, was one of those nights.
The Giants won a game. I can go to bed happy. That’s good enough for now.