Barry Zito improves to 5-0 with a 1.49 ERA

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Barry Zito’s resurgence continued Wednesday, as he took a shutout into the eighth inning against the Marlins. Four straight singles followed to score a run and knock him from the game with the bases loaded, no outs, and Hanley Ramirez at the plate, but Sergio Romo wriggled out of Zito’s jam.
Not only is Zito now 5-0 with a 1.49 ERA this season, he has a 2.38 ERA in 21 starts dating back to last year’s All-Star break. What makes that stretch so improbable is that Zito went into the break at 24-36 with a 4.47 ERA through his first 77 starts for the Giants.
His fastball hasn’t improved any from his usual mid-80s velocity, but Zito’s curveball and changeup are back to being weapons and in turn have made his fastball tougher to tee off on. I’m still very skeptical, but with matchups against the Astros and Padres he’s unlikely to turn into a pumpkin next week.
If nothing else at least the Giants have a bit less regret about still owing Zito another $65 million after 2010.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.