SAN FRANCISCO — Barry Zito was scintillating against the Cardinals on Friday. Jeremy Affeldt was crisp, and Sergio Romo was a true closer, getting St. Louis cleanup hitter Allen Craig on a called third strike to end the game.
But those guys did have some help. Gregor Blanco and Hunter Pence made a couple nice catches in the outfield and, more to the point, Pablo Sandoval showed off some nifty glove work at third base.
Before the game, manager Bruce Bochy responded to a question about Sandoval's weight, a bottomless issue in San Francisco, by saying that the Giants are not concerned, though it's something the team must keep an eye on. The Panda proved one thing during the game: His glove is at the perfect weight.
Sandoval made two diving stops to his left to snag hard-hit ground balls, and started double plays that helped the Giants get out of potential jams in the first and fourth innings.
"Pablo was just flashing the glove all day today," Zito said. "Third base is a key position when I'm throwing, because I'm throwing some off-speed stuff, getting guys out front. So Pablo's always ready over there, and just making great plays. Picking me up huge today."
The Giants have committed just one error in four games so far this season.
THE BAT OF ZITO
You think Zito's rebirth as a competent starting pitcher is astounding? How about his most recent exploits in the batter's box?
In his past three games, dating back to last year's National League Championship Series, Zito has three hits in five official at-bats, along with three sacrifice bunts. Friday, he led off the third inning by slapping a single down the left-field line and sacrificed in his next two plate appearances.
"For us, getting hits is a bonus, certainly," Zito said. "I think what we harp on is, obviously, get the bunts down, and just put up quality at-bats. You know, see four or five pitchers from the pitcher, make the starter work. Just don't come out hacking and hit a weak pop-up first pitch, because that allows 'em to roll the lineup over."
Zito is a career .097 hitter in the regular season.
The Giants are off to a 3-1 start against the Dodgers and Cardinals, expected to be two of their main competitors for the National League crown this season. They're on a three-game winning streak.
But one person who hasn't fully participated in the lovefest is second baseman Marco Scutaro. A vital part of San Francisco's stretch run last year and MVP of the NLCS victory over St. Louis, Scutaro went 0 for 3 on Friday and is now 1 for 15 to begin the season, for a batting average of .067.
Bochy didn't sound worried after the win over St. Louis.
"We're four games into the season," the manager said. "The history of this game, you'll see guys who get off to great starts, and some with slow starts. But he can hit. What's impressive about Marco, you wouldn't know any difference, whether he got three hits or no hits."
The Giants became the first team since the 1976 Milwaukee Brewers, and just the second since 1916, to get through four games of the season without their starting pitchers allowing an earned run.