He’s started 2011 with a bang, but the Giants would have preferred it come on the field.
Zito will try to shake off any effects from a recent car accident as San Francisco looks to salvage a split of a four-game series with the archrival Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night.
Last year, the Giants (1-2) won their first World Series since 1954, but left Zito—9-14, 4.15 ERA—off the postseason roster after he endured a woeful season-ending stretch that saw him go 1-10 with a 5.19 ERA in 15 games.
Zito’s collapse, which included a brief move to the bullpen, came after he got off to the best start of his career. The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner with Oakland, Zito was 5-0 with a 1.49 ERA in his first six starts.
This year has already started with a scare for the left-hander, as he suffered a sore neck and back after being involved in a two-car accident in Los Angeles on Wednesday. He was examined at a local hospital and released before undergoing treatment with the team.
A three-time All-Star with the A’s, Zito doesn’t feel it’s a sign of things to come in 2011.
“It has nothing to do with the season. People can make bad mojo out of anything they want,” he told the Giants’ official website. “They’re probably projecting on themselves more than anything.
“That’s life. Sometimes you can’t control things. You just got to roll with it. You just can’t sit there, dwell on it, start blaming the world, make excuses and point fingers. That’s a whole world of pain that I don’t want to have to deal with. You come up with some solution and move on.”
Zito compiled a 2.41 ERA in six starts against the Dodgers (2-1) last season, but went 0-3 while getting five total runs of support.
San Francisco broke out offensively with a 10-0 win Saturday, collecting 13 hits to match its total from the first two games when they totaled five errors in one-run defeats.
Freddy Sanchez(notes) had three hits, including a double and solo homer, while driving in three runs. The second baseman is 5 for 11 in the series, and owns a .318 average in 27 career games at Dodger Stadium.
Kuroda makes his season debut after going 11-13 with a 3.39 ERA last year, setting personal bests in victories, ERA and strikeouts (159).
The Japanese right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.56 ERA in seven starts against San Francisco, but has dropped both decisions with a 7.47 ERA in three home meetings.
Kemp may be in for another big day against the Giants, as he’s collected more hits off Zito (18) than any other pitcher.