Now that the Yankees are out of World Series contention, I’m moving on, putting my eggs into the SFGiants basket. Last night in GAME 5 OF THE NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES they SHUT OUT the St. Louis Cardinals 5-0, led by the hip, beautiful, and much challenged Barry Zito on the pitchers mound. He threw 115 pitches in 7.2 innings of SHUTOUT BASEBALL and picked up the win. His ERA for 2012 was 3.97, fairly respectable considering what most of his Giants years have been like; in fact, they’re calling this Zito’s comeback season. It’s been rough, watching him sink as soon as he crossed the bridge from Oakland to SF six years ago, going up and down—mostly down—after becoming the highest paid pitcher, at that time, in the majors. Booed and battered (literally!) he managed to weather it all with dignity, but who knows what went on inside the poor guy’s head and heart.
Anyhow, back to bats and balls: The whole team was in fine form last night. They broke the game open in the 4th inning, scoring 4 and knocking Lance Lynn, the Cardinals starting pitcher, off the mound. Pablo Sandoval led off the top of the 8th inning with a solo home run—and that’s all she wrote. The Cards never scored and the game ended at 5-0.
St. Louis’ advantage was cut to 3-2. The big gain is that the series comes back to San Francisco now to play Game 6 in front of the Giants’ avid and loyal fans on Sunday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, 11 of 76 Major League Baseball teams that have fallen behind 3-1 have come back to win a best-of-7 series. If anyone can do it, it’s the Giants. Their 2009 World Series involved constant fan torture as they squeaked through each inning and each game.
Not to over emphasize Barry Zito’s part, but according to MLB reporter Chris Haft, “It could be suggested that this game alone justified Zito’s seven-year, $126 million contract, which made him an object of scorn among the media and many Giants fans during his struggles on the mound. But, as Giants manager Bruce Bochy observed, ‘He’s always been a standup guy with everything.’”
Zito was as cool about winning as he is when he loses: “If you get too caught up in the hype and everything else, things get erratic out there,” Zito said. “I was focused on slowing everything down. … I was living pitch to pitch, moment to moment.”
Written with assistance from Daryl Hochheiser
- Barry Zito shuts down Cardinals in Game 5 of NLCS to keep Giants’ season alive (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- #RallyZito Gained Popularity As Zito Lead SF Giants to Victory in NLCS Game 5 (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)
- Zito, Giants beat Cards, close NLCS deficit to 3-2 (fresnobee.com)
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