The crazy, unimaginable, odd, loopy, strange, glorious 2012 season lives on for the San Francisco Giants, thanks to Barry William Zito. There will certainly be questions asked after this game about whether or not Zito knew about the ludicrously optimistic #RallyZito movement, and Zito can let us know if he knew about it or if he felt the good vibes everyone was sending via social media … man.
The truth? The fans didn’t do anything other than change the tone, from one of resignation to the sort of irrational “can’t predict ball” belief that stuck to this team like pine tar after they did the unthinkable in Cincinnati.
The first two innings of Game 5 seem like they took place eons ago, before people used smartphones and barely edible tacos were handed out as rewards for the athletic achievements of others. In the first, ironman Carlos Beltran hit a single, then took off for second on his “injured” left knee. However, a funny thing happened while Beltran stole that base: Zito got Matt Holliday to strike out swinging at a curveball in the dirt.
An Allen Craig lineout to Pablo Sandoval later, and Zito escaped the inning unscathed.
In inning No. 2, the situation looked far more dire. A leadoff single by Yadier Molina was followed by a David Freese double. Then:
- Daniel Descalso struck out swinging on an 84 mph fastball.
- Pete Kozma was walked intentionally (Zito’s only walk on the night).
- Lance Lynn grounded into a 6-4-3 double play on an 0-1 curveball.
Besides two well-placed hits down the right and left field lines by Allen Craig and Jon Jay, respectively, plus a soft single to right by Descalso, Zito was perfect. He had four outings during the regular season where he gave up no runs over seven-plus innings — including that 4-hit shutout of the Rockies in Denver I mentioned in my Zito post from earlier today — but given the stakes this was Zito’s best performance as a Giant.
But you all know that, because you were all watching this one.
I’m guessing that the St. Louis Cardinals and their fans feel like the Giants and their backers did when Bronson Arroyo looked like vintage Greg Maddux in Game 2 of the NLDS — it’s pretty infuriating when a junkballing wannabe rockstar comes in and silences the home team’s bats.
The Giants saw to it that Arroyo would not pitch again in 2012. Now the Giants must win two more at home to get Zito one more start, a start that would take place in the World Series. Game 1, perhaps. For a guy who watched the entire 2010 postseason from the dugout, that would be a great day indeed. But there is still a lot more work to do.
— Award for .GIF of the evening once again goes to @natt0:
— Immediately after the game Zito told Ken Rosenthal that he had all five pitches going, and he was right. However, his four-seam fastball and curve were truly devastating. According to Brooks Baseball’s PitchFX Tool, 23 of his 30 four-seamers were thrown for strikes, with four “whiffs.” Out of 25 curveballs, 19 were strikes and two resulted in swing-throughs.
— Contrast that with Zito’s short start against the Reds, when he threw 9 of his 17 four-seamers for strikes (no whiffs). His curveball wasn’t too bad in Cincinnati — 12-of-19 for strikes with one swing-and-a-miss.
— The most pitches Zito threw in any one inning: 19 in the 7th, and that was due to the 9-pitch battle with Kozma that ended with the St. Louis shortstop swinging through an 85-mph Zito fastball to close out the inning. Good at-bat … for Zito.
— Zito’s pitch count per inning in Cincinnati: 30, 22, 24.
— According to Brooks, only five of Zito’s pitches that were called strikes were outside the strike zone.
— And that bunt to third! Zito was The Genius on Friday night (or The GZA if, like me, you still listen to Wu-Tang).
— I found this amusing:
(Yes, I favorited and retweeted both of these, because I am that kind of person. At least I favorited that first one around 10:45 am this morning, back when I was feeling strangely optimistic about Zito’s chances.)
Maybe we should give Mr. Duronio the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant Zito was going to get hammered on the flight home off some artisan vodka cocktails.
— Santiago Casilla’s strikeout of Holliday was cruel and heartless.
— Also, Holliday struck out three times on the evening. Not sure I believe in Karma, but…
— Sergio Romo did his job, too. Game 3 didn’t work out so well for the Giants, but the fact that they got that game in on Wednesday means there is an off day for everyone. If for some reason Ryan Vogelsong needs a little extra help on Sunday, Bruce Bochy will have plenty of fresh arms at his disposal.
— After Brandon Belt took two called third strikes, did he feel justified after that walk in the eighth? Given how much Bochy hates it when his hitters don’t put the ball in play, it’s hard to decipher what makes Belt so stubborn in this area. It’s good that he trusts his eyes, but I don’t know how he handles Bochy’s disapproving stare.
— On the other end of the Giants’ offensive spectrum, it sure is nice to have Marco Scutaro back.
— There is absolutely no one on earth who could convince me that Beltran would’ve stayed in that game if he hit the ball off his foot the way Sandoval did.
— When it comes to the middle of the lineup, Panda is carrying Buster Posey and Hunter Pence right now.
— Still, Pence eyes (via @carmenkiew):