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Giants left-hander Barry Zito has allowed three earned runs in his past 20 1/3 innings, his best three-start stretch with the team since the first half of 2007.
While Zito's velocity has risen from 84 to 85 mph last season to 86-87 and occasionally higher, the Giants believe that his improved command and willingness to attack the strike zone are just as meaningful. He no longer is struggling to find his release point, and one scout notes that "the finish" is back on his curveball.
The combination of better velocity and command should be enough for Zito to finally succeed in the National League. He threw 89 to 91 when he first joined the A's, but had dropped to 86 to 88 in his final season, when he went 16-10 with a 3.83 ERA.
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez increased his home-run totals from 24 to 30 to 36 in his first three years with the Padres, and hit nine this season by April 29.
"Put him in Cincy or Philadelphia, and he might hit 50-plus," Padres GM Kevin Towers says. "In a good year, even in our ballpark, he's capable of hitting 40."
Towers notes that Petco Park is especially tough on left-handed hitters and that two other NL West parks, Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium and San Francisco's AT&T Park in San Francisco also are pitcher-friendly.
Phillies left-hander Jamie Moyer and his wife Karen last week received honorary degrees from Moyer's alma mater, St. Joseph's University. The degrees recognized the Moyers' charity work, and when I greeted Jamie at Citizens Bank Park on Friday, he replied jokingly, "It's now doctor to you."
Moyer, 46, is one of my all-time favorites, but it didn't start out that way. He pitched for the Orioles from 1993 to '95, when I was at the Baltimore Sun. Buster Olney, now with ESPN, was the Orioles' beat writer in '95. I was a columnist. Often when I asked Buster for ideas on what to write about, he would reply cheerily, "Moyer!"
Alas, I never listened to Buster, thinking Moyer was too non-descript, too mediocre; he was 32 then, and not particularly accomplished.
Well, since '95, Moyer is 190-110 80 games over .500 with a 4.07 ERA. His next win will be No. 250. And I have had the pleasure of writing about him plenty.