Barry Zito seemed to have a little trouble finding the plate last night, throwing 42 balls in 93 pitches and issuing 3 walks. But he kept racking up the outs, getting 10 ground balls and pitching into the 7th after a 6-pitch 6th. Superb relief work by Sergio Romo sealed the deal. Coming in with 2 on and nobody out, he struck out Ronnie Cedeño on 3 pitches, gave up an RBI single to leadoff man Akinori Iwamura, then struck out Andrew McCutcheon and Lastings Milledge. I love watching him throw, the ball does some funny-looking things when it gets close to the plate, shooting off to the side and plunging downward. I can't imagine trying to hit it!
I'm not quite ready to send Hensley Muelens' name off to the Vatican for sainthood yet, but the Giants put on another offensive display last night, pounding out 12 hits and 9 runs. Pirates pitchers also issued 6 walks and 2 HBP. Pablo Sandoval, Aubrey Huff, and Bengie Molina combined for 9 hits and 7 runs, and Molina's 4 RBI moved him past Bob Brenly on the all-time club list for career RBI by a catcher. Bengie seems to have stolen Edgar Renteria's mojo, as the shortstop had 3 strikeouts and saw his average plunge below .500 for the first time this season. The buzz on the new guys--Huff and DeRosa--is that they are "professional hitters" and bring a "veteran presence" to the lineup. That sort of talk makes me think of those idiotic GMC ads that say "We are professional grade." Jaysus, I hope so, why would you buy a truck that wasn't? And we've had a succession of "veteran professionals" (Rowand, Molina, Uribe) that have hacked and hacked and hacked away like Mamelukes on crack, so the very presence of grizzled greybeards in the lineup is not a sufficient explanation for a ballclub suddenly able to take pitches, work counts, hit the other way, etc. etc. Not that I need an explanation! I'm happy to say it is all because of Bam-Bam or Veteran Savvy Clutchness or clubhouse chemistry or what-have-you, and sit back and enjoy the ride.
Here are the facts: the Giants are 6-1, tied with the defending NL champs for the best record in baseball. They are 4th in the league in runs scored with 40 and second in OBP at .368! We knew the Giants could pitch, and we aren't surprised by their league-leading 20 runs allowed, .598 OPS against, and 2.85 FIP. But no one expected the offensive output we've seen so far. It's April, and we are allowed some leeway to be irrationally excited about ridiculously small sample sizes.
Matt Cain tonight. Go Giants, keep on rockin'!