The 2012 baseball season had not gotten off to a good start for the San Francisco Giants. Despite racking up 23 hits and 14 runs over their first 3 games in Arizona, the Giants were looking at an 0-3 record after the first series of the young season. The Giants were good, but not good enough as all 3 games against the D-Backs were decided by just 1 run.
Heading to Colorado with fourth starter Barry Zito taking the ball did not give Giants fans hope for ending the skid. After all, this was the same Zito who Giants fans were frustrated with after he signed a 7-year $126 million dollar contract. In 5 years with the Giants, Zito amassed a 4.55 ERA and a 43-61 record in 140 starts. Things had gotten so bad that after he returned from the DL with a foot injury in late 2011, Zito pitched out of the bullpen.
He was not yet the Barry Zito of mythical status from the 2012 playoffs and birth of #RallyZito. No, with the Giants already 0-3, fans were worried about seeing Zito get knocked around Coors Field yet again. In his 6 previous games, 5 starts, for Zito as a Giant, he had a 4.42 ERA and had allowed 10 runs over his previous 10.2 IP at the house of horrors in Denver.
But 2012 was not your normal year in Giants fandom. #EvenYearBullshit was just getting started. So naturally, this happened.
Barry Zito put the Giants on his back and threw a complete game shutout at Coors Field as the Giants cruised to a 7-0 victory.
The scoring got started in the top of the first when Melky Cabrera (remember him?) singled with 1 out and Pablo Sandoval homered down the RF line to give the Giants an early 2-0 edge. Zito was handed a lead and never looked back, retiring the Rockies in order through the first 2 innings.
The Giants added to their lead in the top of the 3rd inning as Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin suddenly lost the strike zone and loaded the bases on 3 straight walks with one out. Hector Sanchez made him pay with a single to right field that plated Cabrera. Angel Pagan followed that with a ground out to the first baseman which brought the Panda home and Zito was staked to a 4-0 lead.
He didn’t really need more than a single run, but pitching from strength that day, Zito dominated. He allowed 4 hits, struck out 4 batters, and didn’t allow a base runner past 2nd base all day. Zito stayed in the zone mixing in his curve beautifully as the Rockies kept popping the ball up for easy outs. It also helped that Zito did not walk a single batter on the day and he got to stay almost entirely in the windup.
In the 5th inning, Brandon Crawford contributed to the scoring with a bases clearing double to deep left field to give the Giants a comfortable 7-0 lead. It was up to Zito to do the rest. And he did, finishing strong by retiring the final 6 Rockies hitters in order to secure his first shutout as a Giant, and first since April of 2003 when Zito was with the A’s.
The Giants got hammered by the Rockies the next day, losing by a score of 17-8 so the Zito glow was short lived. But the spark was there, if Barry Zito can throw a shutout at Coors Field, what else can happen? Remember how the Giants lost their first 3 games to the D-Backs all by 1 run? Well, they finished the 2012 season with a 30-20 record in 1-run games. So that didn’t prove to be a problem at all.
As you know, the story continues with an amazing run through the 2012 playoffs and Barry Zito is right there in the middle of it. But that’s for another week.
Baseball Ref Box Score: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/COL/COL201204090.shtml