The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, Zito was named to his second All-Star team on Sunday. But the lefthander looked like anything but a star against one of baseball's worst teams.
Facing a lineup that featured four lefthanded batters, Zito (8-6) was hammered for seven runs and 15 hits in just 5 1/3 innings. He also walked two, hit a batter and departed after throwing 111 pitches in one of his worst performances of his career.
"Of course it looks worse when you get hit by a team that may not be Seattle or
New York Yankees
type," Zito said. "But nonetheless, these guys are big league hitters and if you're not on your game, regardless of what team, it's not really like you have a lot of leeway."
"If you told me we'd have 15 hits off Zito in five or six innings, I would have looked at you a little funny,"
said. "But the kids came out and swung the bats well tonight."
Zito is 1-1 in his last three starts, but has been ripped for 15 runs and 35 hits in 18 2/3 innings over that span.
"I don't feel like my command has been bad," Zito said. "This game was an exception but the last couple of starts even though I gave up hits, my command still has been pretty good."
In the bottom of the third inning, there was a strange instance when someone in the upper deck threw a "Cherry Bomb" into the lower level. Two fans were injured and play briefly was halted before resuming.
"I had no idea what it was," said
. "I didn't know what was going on. I thought like a bomb went off or something. It was so loud. I was shaking for a while."
The brief stoppage did not do anything to slow down the
, who had hits from every starter and banged out 19 overall. Tampa Bay had seven infield hits.
Tampa Bay starter
(1-2) won for the first time this season, allowing three runs and four hits in six innings. The righthander walked three and struck out three.
"I'll tell you what, I've picked up the paper locally two times and I haven't read great things," said Bell, who had been ripped for 17 runs and 18 hits over 19 innings in his first three starts. "Yesterday I was a little concerned when I would be the odd man out (of the rotation). Obviously, that's a concern you don't want to bring into a start when you're trying to make great pitches against a team like this. But it was in the back of my mind."
Entering the contest with a 4-0 record and a microscopic 0.90 ERA in four career starts against the
, Zito worked around a one-out infield hit in the first before he began to get roughed up in the second.
Zito continued to struggle in the third, surrendering an RBI double to Lee.
In the bottom of the inning, Bell worked around a one-out double to
. But the most interesting thing in the inning occurred when
was at the plate and was taken by surprise when the "Cherry Bomb" was launched from the upper deck into the lower level.
"I was in the dugout," A's right fielder
said. "I couldn't imagine how (
) felt. He was in left at the time. I heard, and the first thing I thought was a gun. I don't know but that's what it sounded like. A little kid got hit with it and somebody beside him got hurt. It's just some stuff you don't need at a baseball game."
"It was a shame," Piniella said. "I saw a kid, sort of fall down there in the left field bleachers. It startled everybody. I heard the boom and saw the kid go down."
Baldelli lofted a sacrifice fly in the fourth to extend the lead to 5-0.
Oakland got a pair of runs back in the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice fly by
and an RBI single by Long.
hit his 10th homer with two outs in the sixth, bringing the A's within 5-3.