NLCS: What Barry Zito's Performance Really Meant
Zito's Game 5 performance should leave the MLB masses with one point to remember: Predicting the outcomes of the 2012 Playoffs is impossible, and not worth the hair loss—although I did say that the Tigers and Cardinals would be in the World Series.
True, regardless of Zito's performance tonight coming back and winning three games in the playoffs is almost impossible, especially against the Cardinals line up—which for some reason has not gotten the deserved credit—but that doesn't mean it's inevitable. It's definitely not worth the computer ink spread across the World Wide Web.
If the Giants were going to do anything in October, then the pitching would be key. In the games they have lost, thus far, the pitching has been terrible; Game 2 and now Game 5 has been the reverse.
Will the Giants learn from those two games? I bet Bruce Bochy is hoping so, but again, no analyst, boss or PTI crony can predict that.
For the sake of weekend bets, here is what Game 5 means for you, me, and the genies without lamps at FOX.
The St. Louis Cardinals
Mike Matheny has his team believing they can win, more importantly, they are showing it. David Freese is quickly becoming a clutch playoff-time player and Carlos Beltran is cementing himself as the Central Division version of Mr. October, hitting every pitch the Giants' pitchers chuck over the middle of the plate.
Playoff success always comes from a team effort and the ones that are lopsided on pitching or hitting, respectively, like the Yankees and Giants, usually find they are sitting at home for the World Series—with the other teams not strong enough to contend.
The Cardinals still have the upper advantage in the series. Game 5 is over and now in the past for St. Louis. Look for Chris Carpenter to rebound from his shaky start in Game 2, pitching like the Cy Young winner and leader of the staff we expect.
The San Francisco Giants
Barry Zito aside, Ryan Vogelsong has been the one pitcher for the Giants to understand the game plan for getting Cardinals' hitters out. He will need to continue his fearless efforts to dominate the inside corner of the plate, much like Game 2, if the Giants want to continue the epic climb.
Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval have both done a decent job setting the table for the Giants' lineup, spreading the confidence it takes to hit in the clutch. In a reversal of the Carpenter scenario, look for the Giants hitters to stay aggressive in Game 6, opening the lead and leaving the game in the hands of a strong bullpen.
The most important aspect for the Giants is to understand their success against the Cardinals. The pitchers must realize mind-lapses in the form of down-the-middle pitches will never work—people that don't even watch baseball know that. Zito and Vogelsong should be the example of the general game plan, much like A.J Pierzynski said during the FOX Pre-Game show: Pitching inside, effectively, to set up the off-speed stuff on the outside corner.
Again, that is all hope and speculation. The climb to win the next two is still very difficult.
The Young pitchers watching the game on television or in the crowd
I wanted to end this on a note to the masses that love this game. I truly hope that every young baseball fan watching Game 5, hoping they'll someday do the same, realized what Barry Zito's effort means regarding the actual game of pitching.
While inexperienced Little League and High school coaches may have Bobby "Strong-arm" Smith chucking balls off the backstop, perhaps hitting the glove every five pitches and starting every game because of parent politics, hopefully the young pitcher not in that category, actually working on hitting corners, mixing speeds and messing with the hitter's timing watched Bary Zito.
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how hard you throw; where you locate it is the real money maker. Just ask a dynamite professional hitting squad like the Cardinals.