Barry Zito did what Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner all failed to do--he shut down the Mighty Padres. The Giants took the final game of the series to even things up and grab their 50th win. A rejuvenated Zito held the Padres to four hits and also struck out seven in his eight innings of work. He showed great control (zero walks), mixed his pitches well, and kept the San Diego's hitters off-balance with his big curveball and a slick changeup. The Game Score of 77 was his best since July 16th of last season when he and Brian Wilson combined on a two-hit, 12-strikeout shutout of the Mets. Wilson, naturally, preserved the narrow (2-1) win last night as well. It was his 25th save, tied for third place in the NL.
Much has been made over the last few seasons about the "surplus" of starting pitching the Giants enjoy and the obvious need to trade some of that surplus for a power bat. I tell you, I'd love to have a real bat in the lineup. It is agony watching the Giants attempt to score runs (man, Aubrey Huff is absolutely killing rallies these days). You could argue, though, that the 2011 Pablo Sandoval is a real bat. Buster Posey would clearly have been the other real bat to complement the Panda, but there's not much to be done about that situation. A "surplus" of starting pitching is the best thing any team can have in baseball. Barry Zito goes down, up comes Ryan Vogelsong who out-pitches everyone on the club. Jonathan Sanchez goes down and a renewed Barry Zito returns and puts up a string of zeroes. The Giants would not have 50 wins if they had gotten rid of one of their starters. They would certainly not be the defending champions if they had done it last season. The Giants are going to have a roster problem when Sanchez comes back. I think every team in baseball would love to have that problem. And what if there isn't a roster problem? What if the unthinkable happens and one of the big guys goes down? Wouldn't you rather have all five spots filled with major-league arms?
I have no illusions about the poor quality of the Giants offense. It is--and will be come September and October--the team's Achilles Heel. But I'd still take Achilles over most in a fight, well-known vulnerability or not. The Giants have strength, real strength, world-beating strength in their rotation (and their bullpen). Trading that strength away for a dubious upgrade would be a mistake. It's not like they can get Albert Pujols, fer chrissakes. If the Giants had a better offense they would be 10 games ahead rather than two, I know that. But messing with the golden goose will lay a rotten egg, of that I'm certain. If you need proof, look at these last four games. The worst pitcher on the team just pitched a gem to salvage a series. The Giants are a pitching team. Take away the pitching and they are just another team.
Speaking of the Mets, they are coming to town this weekend. I have tickets to see Tim Lincecum pitch on Saturday (we'll be back in VB 310, our old "charter seats"). Should be fun. GO GIANTS!