The Giants needed Barry Zito to pitch the best game he had all year to continue their season and return the series to San Francisco for game six and luckily for them he did.
Zito tossed seven and two-thirds shutout innings, while scattering six hits and striking out six in the Giants 5-0 win in game five Friday night. Zito had to perform under the pressure of the do-or-die situation, but he also realizes how important it was to shut down the best hitting team in the NL heading back to San Fran where the home fans could help the Giants turn the tables on the Cards. When asked if he would rank this as his best performance considering the circumstances and the point in his career, the answer came easily.
“This is definitely it for me,” Zito told ESPN. “Coming here, especially doing it in a Giants uniform. A lot of people were saying stuff about the A’s days. And for me, the most important thing is doing everything for San Francisco right now.”
Giants manager was obviously confident in Zito when many were not. Zito has endured some rocky seasons in recent years, but has seemed to find a groove lately, winning his last seven starts of the regular season.
“I couldn’t be happier for him,” Bochy said. “He had it all going. He put on quite a show.”
Zito acknowledged he couldn’t have done it without his defense, which was spectacular in game five. Second baseman Marco Scutaro made a sliding stop to rob Shane Robinson of a hit and Hunter Pence made a nice grab in right field to take another St. Louis hit away in the same inning.
The bats finally came alive for San Francisco at Busch Stadium as well, scoring five runs on six hits. After taking a 4-0 lead in the fourth, Pablo Sandoval gave the Giants some an insurance run in the eighth with a solo homerun. Even though it was his second homer in as many nights, the Giants came into their third game in St. Louis having scored a total of just four runs.
San Fran will need everything to keep clicking to stay alive in the series as it turns its attention to game six at home on Sunday. The Giants will hang their hats on Ryan Vogelsong, who is 2-0 in this postseason and 1-0 in the series after winning game two. He will try to duplicate that last outing he had against the Cards, where he pitched seven strong innings, allowing just one earned run on four hits.
The Cardinals may have missed an opportunity in game five, but they can still end the series Sunday in game six, but they’ll need a strong showing from Chris Carpenter who is 1-1 in the postseason. He lost the matchup with Vogelsong in game two, lasting only four innings while giving up two earned runs on six hits, but the rematch could mean redemption for the veteran.
I have to say I still like the Cards in the series, but with some momentum and with a clear advantage in the pitching matchup, I like the Giants to extend the series to seven games while the Tigers await the winner.