Barry Zito was left off the postseason roster all three series for the 2010 world champion Giants. This year, signs point to him being a very important player if the Giants are going to make a run into October.
Former NL ERA leader Ryan Vogelsong gave up seven runs — six earned — in 3 1/3 innings versus the Diamondbacks on Sunday. He’s now allowed 34 earned runs in 29 2/3 innings in his last seven starts, taking his ERA from 2.27 to 3.67 for the season.
Now, that’s still better than Zito’s 4.21 mark. But barring a massive rebound these next two weeks, the Giants aren’t going to have any choice but to pick Zito over Vogelsong next month. The Giants have won Zito’s last eight starts, and while the well-compensated left-hander hasn’t been great in all of them, he has performed very well in holding the Dodgers and Diamondbacks to a combined one run in 13 innings his last two times out. Overall, he has a 4.06 ERA during the streak.
In truth, even though the Giants are going to cruise to an NL West title, they can’t be feeling all that good about things right now. Madison Bumgarner has struggled in his last four starts, and Matt Cain hasn’t been at his sharpest either. While Tim Lincecum is throwing better, it’s come with a lot of walks. It’s the offense that’s been carrying the load of late: the Giants rank third in the NL in runs scored and ninth in runs allowed since the All-Star break.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.