The amount of Giant fans who haven’t moaned and groaned at the mere sight of Barry Zito are few and far between. Make no mistake, it wasn’t that Giant fans disliked Zito the person – not at all – but the thought of him throwing a baseball? *shivers*
Giant fans had good reason to feel the way they did. In Zito’s six years as a Giant, the $126 million dollar man never finished a season with an ERA below 4.03, nor a WHIP below 1.34 and when it mattered most, Zito was no place to be found. So when the Giants had their backs pushed against the wall against the Cincinnati Reds, down 0-2 and their season rested on the arm of Zito – Giant fans were obviously skeptical.
They were right.
Zito was yanked by Bruce Bochy after just 2.2 innings of work after giving up four hits and two earned – his solid end to the season all but forgotten about as it was another Zito-esque performance. Thankfully, the Giants were able to hold on and win Game 3 and little did we know the metamorphosis we were about to watch.
The Giants quickly found themselves in another must-win situation and yet again, here was Zito, tasked with the job of keeping the season alive down 3-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals. These weren’t just any Cardinals – these birds feasted on left handers. It was a perfect recipe for disaster but Zito was having none of it. Pitching what many would deem the game of his life (at least at the time), Zeets held the Redbirds to no runs in 7.2 innings of work – in St. Louis for that matter – saving the Giants’ season for one more day when it looked like the orange and black were on their final breaths. He wasn’t done though. Barry kept his winning ways going as he stifled more of the animal kingdom, this time the Tigers of Detroit as he picked up his first ever World Series victory after tossing 5.2 innings of one run ball in Game 1 of the series – a monumental victory given the tone setting and the opposition, Justin Verlander.
It was an average Barry Zito regular season – but when the time came to step up, Zito did and did so at the highest of levels. Giant fans couldn’t be prouder.
Season Grade: C-
Postseason Grade: A