Barry Zito looks to continue his excellent start to the season this evening as he takes the hill for the San Francisco Giants in the opener of a four-game series against the New York Mets.
Injuries held Zito to just 13 appearances last season and he went 3-4 with a 5.87 earned run average. The left-hander has looked in top form so far in 2012, going 1-0 with a 1.13 earned run average in his two starts.
Zito opened his season with a four-hit shutout in Colorado, striking out four without a walk. He then got a no-decision versus the Pirates on Saturday, getting charged with three runs -- two earned -- on six hits and a walk over seven frames of his club's 4-3 win.
The 33-year-old has faced the Mets six times in his career, going 3-2 with a 3.31 ERA.
Zito may have to be in top form this evening as the Giants were held to two runs or less for the third time in four games on Wednesday against the Phillies. However, thanks in part to starter Matt Cain, San Francisco managed a 1-0 victory in 11 innings.
Cain outdueled Phillies starter Cliff Lee, who threw 10 scoreless innings. Cain, meanwhile, allowed only two hits and one walk over nine scoreless frames and the Giants won when Melky Cabrera knocked in the winning run off Philadelphia's bullpen.
"That was really fun to be a part of. It was nonstop back-and-forth. Both of us trying to throw a lot of strikes and get guys out," said Cain, who retired the final 13 batters he faced.
Cabrera finished with three hits for San Francisco, which took two of three in the series and have won five of seven overall.
The Mets will counter Zito with a left-hander of their own in Jon Niese, who has won both of his starts since signing a five-year contract extension on April 7. He beat the Braves the next day in his season debut and then held the Phillies to five hits and a walk over 6 2/3 scoreless innings on Saturday. He also struck out five.
The 25-year-old is 0-1 with a 3.68 ERA in his career versus the Giants.
New York will try to avoid a fourth loss in five games in this opener after getting blitzed 14-6 in Atlanta on Wednesday. David Wright had a milestone dampened with the loss as his three RBI tied him with Darryl Strawberry (733) for the most in team history.
Ike Davis added a solo homer and R.A. Dickey had a string of 14 straight quality starts ended when he was charged with eight runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 damp innings.
"I've got to give us a better shot," Dickey said. "We were hitting the ball great. I wish I would've kept us in the game longer."
The Giants have won eight of their past 11 versus the Mets.