Barry Zito had arguably his best start of the season for the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday going 6 2/3 innings and giving up only 1 run on 4 hits with 4 K's and no walks en route to beating the Cleveland Indians. The big stat here was the zero walks allowed. It was the first start all season in which Zito didn't allow a runner via base on balls and the result was nearly 7 shut-out innings. The win moved the Giants within 5.5 games of the first place D-Backs and with the Backs idle tonight, the Giants can move to within 5 with a win in Cleveland. Not that I expect the Giants to make a serious move in the division, and I fully expect to see the Los Angeles Dodgers and D-Backs start playing better in the second half, but we've all seen crazier things. You'd think the D-Backs' rotation alone wouldn't allow them to struggle like this, but Randy Johnson and Doug Davis aren't anything special at this point while Brandon Webb and Micah Owings have been average or below over the last month. The Dodgers have been nailed with injuries, so I really do think it's only a matter of time before they get back on track, but even when they do, they aren't a powerhouse. This division is still wide open, and even though I still see the Giants finishing 4th or 5th, things could be relatively close for a while, especially if Zito can keep turning in performances like he did last night.
One Giant who continues to be steady, yet un-spectacular is Jonathon Bowker. The rookie right fielder turned first basemen has handled the change admirably while still providing some punch at the plate. He's quietly tied for the team lead with 8 home runs, is 3rd with 33 RBI, and he didn't start the year with the Giants, or hasn't really been an everyday player. You project that out and he's on pace for 20 home runs and 75 RBI if he gets 300 at-bats in the second half. Not great by any means, but for a Giants organization that hasn't produced a hitter with plus power since Matt Williams, it's a nice start. One of the main goals of this rebuilding season is finding out which "bubble" prospects can play and which can't. So far, it looks like Bowker can stick in some capacity, now he should have the whole second half of the year to prove if he can handle the everyday job. So far, it looks like the Giants have found keepers in Fred Lewis and Brian Wilson, Bowker isn't quite there, but he's close.
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