With Giants on brink, Zito hurls game of his life
ST. LOUIS -- If ever there was a tale of redemption, Barry Zito told it on the mound for the Giants on Friday night.Left off the roster for all three postseason rounds when the Giants won the World Series in 2010, the left-hander was given the ball in a do-or-die situation against the Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium.
All he did was pitch the game of his life. The Giants are alive today and heading home to the Bay Area for Game 6 on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. PT (FOX) because Zito shut out the Cards on six hits in 7 2/3 dominant innings."I couldn't be happier for him," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after his club wrapped up Game 5 in a neat little 5-0 bow. "He's done a great job for us this year. I don't know how many times when we needed to win this year he found a way to get it done for us. I think you have to give him credit how he's handled things." St. Louis was on the precipice of going back to the World Series to defend its title, and still leads the best-of-seven series, 3-2, after the loss. But any celebration was staved off for a couple of days because the Giants won for the 13th time in a row in games when Zito has started.
|NLCS 5||10/19/12||Stl.||7 2/3||6||0||5-0 W|
|ALDS 1||10/3/06||Min.||8||4||1||3-2 W|
|ALDS 2||10/2/03||Bos.||7||5||1||5-1 W|
|ALDS 3||10/13/01||NYY||8||2||1||1-0 L|
|ALDS 4||10/7/00||NYY||5 2/3||7||1||11-1 W|
Two years ago, Zito was on the precipice of oblivion. On Friday, he hung in there to win his first postseason game since Oct. 3, 2006, when Zito beat the Twins in the Metrodome for the A's in Game 1 of an American League Division Series."Well, you know, it was certainly a huge blow just personally to be left off that roster," Zito said, referring to his status two years ago. "But you've got to be professional. You can't pout. I worked on a lot of things that offseason and came back stronger for it, I think." He was virtually on the outside when the Giants clinched their first World Series title since 1954 by winning Game 5 over the Rangers at Texas in 2010. It was no wonder that Friday night's game for the 34-year-old veteran of 13 big league seasons came almost with a sigh of relief. "This is definitely it for me," Zito said several times when asked to rank Friday night's performance along with his career accomplishments that include the 2002 AL Cy Young Award. "There are definitely some playoff memories there, but they were all in a different uniform. This was probably the biggest one for me, especially doing it for the Giants."
|"This was probably the biggest one for me, especially doing it for the Giants."|
|-- Barry Zito|
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow@boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.