After getting tagged by the Athletics last month, Zito gets another chance to beat his former team as he takes the mound for the San Francisco Giants on Saturday in the middle game of the teams’ series.
Zito (6-5, 3.87 ERA) was terrible against Oakland on May 18, allowing seven runs and six hits while matching a career high with seven walks in four-plus innings as San Francisco lost 15-3.
The left-hander signed a $126 million, seven-year contract with the Giants in the offseason after winning 102 games and the 2002 AL Cy Young Award during seven seasons with the A’s.
Control issues, though, have always been a concern with Zito, who has perennially posted some of the highest walk totals in the majors. He was fourth in the majors with 99 walks last season for Oakland.
Zito has bounced back nicely after his outing against Oakland, posting a 0.45 en route to winning each of his three starts since. In his last start, he allowed an unearned run and six hits in six innings to beat Philadelphia 8-1 on Monday.
A’s manager Bruce Bochy isn’t concerned Zito might fall back into a rut against his former team.
“Barry, he’s so good at putting the bumps in the road, the adversity, the tough games, behind him,” Bochy said.
Oakland won its series opener with San Francisco 5-3 in 10 innings Friday night.
The Giants were forced to make major adjustments on defense in the top of the 10th. Bochy didn’t have any position players left on the bench after a collision at the plate forced backup catcher Eliezer Alfonzo out with sprained left knee. The manager had to use starting pitcher Noah Lowry in right field and move Pedro Feliz from third base to catcher for his major league debut behind the plate.
Starting catcher Bengie Molina was taken out of Friday’s game in what the team called a “baseball decision,” but Bochy and athletic trainer Dave Groeschner checked on Molina after he was taken out.
The Giants’ banged-up lineup will now face Dan Haren (6-2, 1.70 ERA), who has been one of baseball’s hottest pitchers and owns the best ERA in the majors.
The right-hander earned a win against San Francisco on May 19, allowing two runs and three hits in seven innings as Oakland won 4-2. He is 3-3 with a 3.61 ERA in seven starts and a relief appearance against the Giants.
On Monday night, Haren gave up two runs and four hits while tying a season high with nine strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings, as Oakland beat Boston 5-4 in 11 innings.
The A’s have won 10 of their last 15, with their pitchers posting a 2.43 ERA in that span.
Oakland’s lineup, though, won’t be getting Milton Bradley back any time soon. He was put on the 15-day disabled list for the third time this season.
Bradley injured his right calf on June 3. He missed five straight games, getting scratched Wednesday night against Boston after testing his legs before the game.
“I feel bad for him. He’s trying real hard,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “He’s been working real hard to come back. We want him in there and he wants to be in there. It’ll happen.”