Good Barry, Bad Benitez

When the Giants signed Barry Zito to a seven-year, $126 million contract, this is what they had in mind. The Giants really needed a dominant effort on Wednesday in the wake of the Armando Benitez meltdown a night earlier, and Zito delivered it with seven shutout innings. Some games in the course of a season are more important than others, and this one qualifies, because of A) the trip the Giants are on and B) no loss is more difficult to get over than one in which you’re one out away from winning.

Don’t get carried away though and assume this will be the start of a dominating rest of the season for Zito. Remember, he’s had his moments in New York, going back to his Game 4 win over the Yankees for the A’s in the 2000 American League Division Series. And remember also that in 11 starts for the Giants, he’s been outstanding in four of them, absolutely awful in three and middle-of-the-road in four.

That’s about what you get with Zito. Save for his Cy Young campaign, that’s how it was in Oakland, and that’s how it will continue to be with the Giants. But credit him for his excellent work against the Mets.

Now on to Armando, who showed up to the park Wednesday reporting tenderness in his right knee. You hate to insinuate that any player is faking an injury, but don’t you just immediately go that place when you hear this news? Manager Bruce Bochy may have offered brave words regarding Benitez — “I don’t think you give up on a guy with two blown saves,” he said — but let’s face it, Benitez has lost this team. Too many times of saying, “I did my job,” in the face of failure, and too many failures, period.
Did anybody notice that in the wake of Carlos Delgado’s walk-off in the “Balk, Balk, Gone,” game that not a single teammate patted Benitez on the butt and told him to shake it off? Instead, they walked silently past him, not saying a word.

At this point, it makes absolutely no sense for the Giants not to lean a bit heavier on Brad Hennessey in the ninth. Maybe even give Russ Ortiz a shot. Of course, they could sure use Jeremy Accardo, but … well, never mind.

In the meantime, here’s one thought that might make you feel a teeny bit better about the whole topic of Benitez: His latest meltdown could’ve been worse. It could’ve been in Game 7 of a playoff series.