It is never easy losing to your arch rival, but that's exactly what happened at Dodger Stadium Friday night in front of a rather small crowd. It is easy to point fingers at the offense, but simply put, Chad Billingsly was just good (8IP, 2 hits, 2 unearned runs, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts). In addition, for good measure, Billingsly lined a 2-2 87mph fastball at the belt in to right field for a base hit, which made the score 4-2 Dodgers, that proved to be the winning hit.
On the flipside, Zito's struggles, especially on the road, continue. Zito tonight lasted only 4 innings, on 4 hits, 4 earned runs, 4 walks, while striking out 5 with 2 of those walks scoring on a 2 out hit from Chad Billingsly. While Zito at times looked good, locating that fastball on the corners and then flopping over nasty curveballs off the fastballs, the walks simply killed him. Zito now remains winless in his last 9 starts, with his last win coming against the Mets back in July. While the likes of Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, and Sanchez shifted to "Game on," Zito apparently did not get the memo.
"To take on the responsibility of the offense, that's not my job," Zito said in the locker room after the loss. This quote has me scratching my head right here. The offense scratched and clawed to tie the game after Zito gave up a 2-run home run to Rad Barajas with 2 outs, but when Billingsly singled in Zito's walks with 2 outs, the life seemed to be sucked out of the offense. Shutdown innings mean everything to an offense after they just battled to tie the game for you. Last I checked Mr. Zito, you are part of a whole team, not in this for yourself. You are not doing yourself any favors by alienating yourself from the offense, who is there to pick you up when you're down. How come you can't do the same when your offense is down against a good pitcher? Why would your offense want to pick you up, if you are not picking them up? This is what pennant race baseball is all about. Just look at what Cole Hamels did for the Phillies' struggling offense today. He picked them up by throwing a shutout. Time for Zito to do the same as the other starting pitchers and pick up the hitters with a good outing.
It was hard for me to look the other way on how Jose Guillen's lack of speed and defense is really hurting the team right now. If Cody Ross is in right field on the Billingsly liner, I think he makes that catch. Unfortunately, that's what you get from someone who should be a DH. Furthermore, Guillen may be hitting .327 as a Giant, but too many of those are singles, and with Guillen's lack of speed, he is just clogging the basepaths (he IS slower than Molina). Expect to see Ross in right tomorrow against the lefty Ted Lilly.
Zito not only doomed himself with the walks, but his 2 out pitching to Barajas and Billingsly was questionable. On the homerun Barajas hit, you have the pitcher Billingsly on deck with a runner at first. He obviously has been a problem against the Giants (he is 3 for 16 against them, but with 3 home runs!). None of those pitches should have been anywhere close to the plate when you got a pitcher hitting .140 on deck. As for the Billingsly at-bat, you have to tip your cap to him for lining it to right, but Zito has got to locate better on a 2-2 count. That ball needs to be either inside or too high to be reached. At 87mph, down the middle and up, that is something pitchers see all the time in pitcher's batting practice and Billingsly promptly knew what to do with it. If his offense battled to score 2 runs, Zito should have at least returned the favor by battling to retire a light hitting pitcher.
I hate to say it, but if the Giants don't win tomorrow, they could very well get swept. They face a really good pitcher, who has been pitching well, in Ted Lilly and Cain is winless at Dodger Stadium. Big game tomorrow. They must find a way to win because on Sunday night, Jonathon Sanchez, who also always struggles against the Dodgers, faces Huroki Kuroda, who always does well against the Giants. Then again, it is Giants baseball where it is torture one night and paradise the next.