Zito Back in Oakland as Giants Face A's - NBC Bay Area

Zito Back in Oakland as Giants Face A's



    Zito Back in Oakland as Giants Face A's
    Getty Images
    Barry Zito heads back to Oakland for the Battle of the Bay.

    Bust out your panda costumes and your East Bay area code paraphernalia, Bay Area baseball fans. It's the first A's-Giants "Battle of the Bay" series of the 2010 season, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum.

    And for the first time since 2007, both Battle of the Bay teams are actually good. This weekend's series legitimately affects the standings in both the American and National Leagues!

    Barry Zito returns to Oakland for Friday night's game, live on NBC Bay Area at 7 p.m.  And that sucker's being broadcast in hi-def.

    Zito has never, ever beaten the A's since he left Oakland. The zen surfer is a belly-itching 0-3 with a staggering 9.22 ERA against his former team. Dude, so not cool, brah....

    "They booed the (heck) out of me," Zito told the San Jose Mercury News, describing his previous visits to the Oakland Coliseum since becoming a San Francisco Giant. "It was pretty jarring. I wasn't expecting them to cheer for me, but really? The things they were yelling. It was awful."

    Sometimes Zito sounds more like Betty White than like a surfer.

    The Giants enter the weekend a mere half-game out of first place in the NL West. The A's are just four games out of first place in the AL West. A three-game series can make a substantial difference for both teams.

    Saturday's 1 p.m. game pits Giants' rightie Matt Cain against A's leftie Gio Gonzalez. In Sunday afternoon's game, the Athletics start their free agent prize Ben Sheets against last season's no-hitter pitcher, Jonathan Sanchez.

    You will not see perfect game ace Dallas Braden pitch in this weekend's series.

    But I bet you will be reminded a few times of that young man's area code.

    Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who points out that even though Dallas Braden is throwing zero pitches this whole series, his grandmother will throw one pitch Friday night.