Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Clearing the bases: Zito to the rescue
By David Schoenfield
News and notes from Monday's action that won't mention the Red Sox and Yankees showed great grit and determination by finally winning a game ...
First base: Barry good. After an 0-3 start following three one-run losses to the Diamondbacks, the Giants turned to Barry Zito against the Rockies at Coors Field. Of course, he threw his first shutout since 2003 and became just the second left-hander to ever throw a shutout there -- Tom Glavine having done it twice. Even more amazing may have been this 11-pitch at-bat Zito mustered off Esmil Rogers. With Buster Posey and Brandon Belt getting the day off the Giants fielded a lineup with Aubrey Huff batting cleanup, Hector Sanchez fifth and Brandon Crawford seventh. Don't worry, Giants fans: Bruce Bochy said Belt will be back in the lineup when the teams meet again on Wednesday.
Second base: Mets win as Nationals throw it away. I wrote on Sunday about the Mets' patient approach at the plate. They drew six walks on Monday and Mike Baxter's pinch-hit leadoff walk off Henry Rodriguez in the bottom of the ninth led to the winning run. Ruben Tejada laid down a two-strike bunt that Rodriguez threw away to put runners at second and third. Daniel Murphy then singled in Baxter for a 4-3 win. Jon Rauch threw two hitless innings for the win and the Mets bullpen has allowed just one run in 13.1 innings so far.
Third base: Red-hot Fredi. The curious lineup decision of the night belonged to Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez. He benched Jason Heyward to get Matt Diaz into the lineup, since Diaz was 8-for-15 in his career against J.A. Happ. I suppose playing Diaz is reasonable. But he could have easily moved Martin Prado to third base and put Diaz in left field. Instead, he kept Juan Francisco -- like Heyward a lefty swinger -- in the lineup. Gonzalez's rationale? He wanted to see to how Francisco would fare against a left-handed pitcher in case he's needed later in the season if Chipper Jones can't go. Umm, OK. But why bench Heyward in the season's fourth game? He was 2-for-10 with two walks, a double and triple, hardly a reason to give him a day off. Heyward is still a 22-year-old with superstar potential. Those guys need to play every day. Anyway, the Braves lost 8-3 to the lowly Astros, committed four errors (three by Francisco, the guy Gonzalez had to get in the lineup), they're 0-4 and Gonzalez is undoubtedly the manager on the hottest seat in the bigs right now.
Home plate: Tweet of the day.