Because something is improbable does not make it impossible. It seems obvious and is anything but profound but, in times like these, it is important to remember. No matter how high the odds were stacked against the Giants tonight, no matter how unlikely it seemed that Barry Zito would stand tall against the mighty lineup of the St. Louis Cardinals, there always remained a non-zero possibility he might pull it off.
Non-zero came up large tonight. Non-zero showed that occasionally a pitcher once deemed worthy of a nine figure contract can scrape it all together and turn in a lights-out performance: one hell of a performance when his team needed it most.
Which is exactly what Barry Zito did tonight for the San Francisco Giants. Many times in recent memory, Barry Zito managed some “good except for that one inning” starts. Tonight Barry Zito did not have That One Inning against the Cardinals, he instead completely stymied the Cardinals, pitching
masterfully for the Giants, striking out six against just one walk and six hits. Seven and two-thirds shutout innings. From Barry Zito.
While the Giants defense helped Zito’s cause greatly, making at least three noteworthy plays behind him, the Cards defense betrayed Lance Lynn. More specifically, Lance Lynn’s defense betrayed Lance Lynn, causing his second consecutive fourth inning meltdown. It was all the Giants and Zito (!) would need, cruising to a 5-0 victory. The series goes back to San Francisco, where the Cards must win only one game.
The Win Expectancy Graph, aka #RallyZito Keeps Rally Going
The Lance Lynn Controlled BABIP Implosion
Like a parakeet smacking against a window, Lance Lynn meets his invisible wall in the fourth inning again.
— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) October 20, 2012
Poor Lance Lynn. Lance Lynn did not pitch poorly on this night. Lance Lynn, just as in his Game One start, mowed down the Giants in the early going. He registered five strikeouts the first time through the order. Then came the aforementioned fourth inning.
Lance Lynn didn’t get hit especially hard but he gave up two consecutive singles to Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval to start the fourth. Then Lynn struck out Buster Posey. Lynn still looked strong but the memories of his last outing were front of mind for many Cards fans, I’m sure.
Lynn sawed Hunter Pence off but good, causing the Giants right-fielder the chop a weak grounder in front of the plate. Lynn fielded and, after the briefest of pauses, fired toward second base. Not really toward second, directly at second base. The actual bag, which his throw promptly struck as neither Pete Kozma nor Daniel Descalso covered the bag in time. The ball went into center field, allowing Scutaro to score. Ugly scenes!
Lynn coaxed a weak flare from Brandon Belt for the second out but could not retire the Giants 7th or 8th place hitters, walking Gregor Blanco and BABIPing a bounding single up the middle to Brandon Crawford, scoring two runs.
Up steps very much not a hitter Barry Zito, who transformed in Barry Ballgame with an astute bunt up the third base line for a single. Blanco scored and the Giants were on their way.
Lance Lynn gave up one walk, one bouncing single to Crawford, an opposite field pokejob to Scutaro and a legit liner to Pablo Sandoval. That’s it. He threw the ball into center field and gave up hits when he should not have given up hits.
The problem with that offering from Lynn, was that Crawford was able to pick up the ball very early and adjust. Hard to disguise RHP/LH
— Jason Parks (@ProfessorParks) October 20, 2012
Meanwhile Barry Zito was dealing and, when he wasn’t, his defense bailed him out. Or, when Barry Zito powered his 84 mph cheese right down the middle of the plate, the Cardinals inexplicably swung through it. I guess that’s how it works sometimes? Proof positive of the one immutable truth: baseball.
Barry Zito’s Other Finest Hour
Fast-forward to 2:30 if you are lacking in the patience department.
The Game in an Unfair Photo
The Giants enveloped the Cardinals in the early going, using their might to overshadow the efforts of the diminutive, weaker opponents from the Midwest.
The Game in Another Unfair Photo
Not only did Lance Lynn lose the handle on this game after cruising through three innings, he doubled his pleasure by grounding into an inning-ending double play on this feeble swing. All the suffering in one fell swoop. Straight to the monkey.
You Look Twice as Ridiculous Breaking Down the Recyclables, Don’t Kid Yourself
Still, not Hunter Pence’s best likeness.
You’re on your own, Hunter.
Tweets of the Night
Can’t actually tell if starting Zito in an elimination game is higher on the Man Spurning God Scale than Saunders. Pretty sure it is
— Jonathan Bernhardt (@jonbernhardt) October 20, 2012
/Zito tears up Zarry Bito fake ID “Not tonight.”
— Jeff Sullivan (@LookoutLanding) October 20, 2012
Trevor Rosenthal. Shelby Miller. Oscar Taveras. Carlos Martinez. I hope everyone really likes watching the Cardinals this time of year.