Bay Area Baseball

Follow the latest news and notes on the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics

April 5, 2013
On the Giants rotation's historic start to the season

SAN FRANCISCO -- A quick note on the historic start to this season by the Giants' starting rotation -- with Barry Zito's seven shutout innings in the Giants' 1-0 win over the Cardinals in their home opener Friday, the rotation has now thrown 26 innings in its first four games without allowing an earned run. (The Dodgers scored two unearned runs against Tim Lincecum in the finale of that series Wednesday).

The Giants are only the second team since 1916 to have their starters not allow an earned run in the first four games of the season, according to the team's post-game notes. Can you name the other?

If not, you probably shouldn't feel bad. That would be the 1976 Milwaukee Brewers, and pitchers Jim Slaton (lifetime record of 151-158 and 4.03 ERA), Bill Travers (65-71, 4.10) and Jim Colborn (83-88, 3.80). The Giants accomplished the feat with Matt Cain (6 scoreless innings against the Dodgers in L.A. on opening day), Madison Bumgarner (8), Lincecum (5) and Zito (7).

"Unbelievable," manager Bruce Bochy said of the start. "We know that's amazing and we can't expect that. But it's a credit to how good they are, how well they're pitching."

Zito said it's a promising sign that, after another deep postseason run last fall and short offseason, the rotation appears strong in the early going.

"You can do all kinds of things in spring training, but when the season starts, things can go completely different," Zito said. "For us to come out and win three of four versus the Dodgers, Cards, two of the best teams in the N.L. -- we've got a tough draw on the schedule, but we've really handled it well so far."

Back to the '76 Brewers for a minute: Because, in a bit of odd scheduling, they played their first four games over eight days, Slaton pitched twice. In both games, he threw complete-game shutouts, one each against the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers.

Travers pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings in his start (which the Brewers' bullpen blew in a 9-7 loss to the Yankees) and Colborn threw six shutout in a win over the Texas Rangers. Like the Giants, that Brewers team started 3-1. However, they finished the season 66-95, in last place in the A.L. East.

The starter of their fifth game? Slaton again, who this time was touched for four runs on six hits in six innings by the Rangers.

You're up, Ryan Vogelsong.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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