Oakland left-hander Barry Zito hasn’t pitched like a No. 1 starter this season.
The Athletics are hoping that trend changes when he faces the San Francisco Giants in the deciding game of their interleague series.
Zito went 23-5 with a 2.75 ERA on his way to the AL Cy Young Award that season, but hasn’t been close to being the same pitcher since, finishing 14-12 in 2003 and a disappointing 11-11 last season.
In his last start, Zito issued a career-high seven walks, to go along with three runs and three hits over five innings, but was spared the loss in Oakland’s 7-5 defeat to Boston on Tuesday. Since beating Seattle on May 1 for his only win of the season, Zito has no record and a 4.91 ERA in three starts.
The Giants, whose 3-2 win on Saturday was just their second victory in the last seven games, will also be sending a struggling left-hander to the mound on Sunday.
Noah Lowry allowed seven runs and 10 hits over just 3 2-3 innings in a 9-4 defeat at Colorado on Tuesday.
Lowry’s only win this season came in a 13-6 victory at Colorado on April 15.
The 24-year-old left-hander, who started his career 7-0 in his first 18 appearances, including 16 starts, has lost five consecutive decisions while going winless with a 6.55 ERA over his last six starts.
“This has definitely been the longest stretch of time for me without a win and, in my opinion, not pitching the way I know I’m capable of pitching,” Lowry said. “It’s a matter of trusting your stuff, not over-thinking and staying relaxed.”