San Francisco Giants vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Team Grades for NLCS Game 5
Just call him Big-Game Barry!
Facing a must-win situation, in perhaps the biggest start of his San Francisco Giants career, Barry Zito came out and put up nothing but zeroes through 7.2 innings before turning the game over to his bullpen.
The Giants offense gave Zito more than enough run support to earn him the postseason victory, his first since 2006.
St. Louis was unable to clinch at home and will now have to go back out on the road, as the Giants reclaimed home-field advantage for the final two games (if necessary) at AT&T Park in the City by the Bay.
The final score was 5-0, earning the Giants their second victory. The Cardinals still lead the series, 3-2.
Here are the final grades for the Giants and Cardinals in Game 5...
Heading into the fourth inning, this game looked like it was going to wind up being a pitching duel.
Lance Lynn had a no-hitter working and Barry Zito had matched zeroes on the scoreboard in the run column.
A throwing error by Lynn with two outs in the fourth inning undid all of that.
Lynn wound up allowing four unearned runs to score after the error.
His night came to an end after 3.2 innings (with the four runs coming on the error), four hits and two walks. He also struck out six batters.
Zito, on the other hand, continued to put zeroes on the board deep into the game. He lasted 7.2 innings and gave up six hits and just one walk. Zito struck out six batters and left the game with a runner on first and two outs in the eighth inning.
His only walk was an intentional walk to Pete Kozma in the second inning to load the bases. He worked out of the jam.
Final Grade for Giants Starting Pitching: A
Final Grade for Cardinals Starting Pitching: C
For the second game in a row, Pablo Sandoval homered. His blast gave San Francisco its first earned run of the game in the eighth inning.
The Giants wound up with five runs scored on six hits and three walks for the evening. They were just 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left five runners on base.
St. Louis, after a breakout offensive game last night in Game 4, could not get a run across against Barry Zito and the Giants.
The Cardinals managed to outhit the Giants, 7-6, but were shutout by the combination of Zito, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo.
St. Louis was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base.
Yadier Molina was the lone Cardinal hitter with more than one hit for the night.
Final Grade for the Giants Offense: B-
Final Grade for the Cardinals Offense: D
Major Factor: Giants' Response to Playing in Elimination Game
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In four elimination games this postseason, the San Francisco Giants are now 4-0.
Fighting back from an 0-2 deficit against the Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco became the first National League team to come back and win three straight to advance to the National League Championship Series.
Facing a 3-1 deficit against the Cardinals, the Giants found themselves back in the same situation.
Win or go home.
The Giants seem to play their best baseball when their backs are against the wall.
Barry Zito had (possibly) his biggest game as a Giant and looked reminiscent of his 2006 ALDS start against the Minnesota Twins and Johan Santana.
The San Francisco lineup did its part and put five runs on the board in support of its starter. Sandoval homered for the second straight night to add to an already 4-0 lead.
When they need it most, the Giants step up big. Tonight, it was Zito and Sandoval playing the role of savior for San Francisco's season.
Final Grade for Giants' Response to Elimination Game: A
Major Factor: Home-Field Advantage
St. Louis had an opportunity to close out the Giants at home and prevent the series from returning to San Francisco.
Instead, it made a crucial error that led to a four-run inning and couldn't manage to get a single run across the plate against the soft-throwing Zito.
The Cardinals will travel back to San Francisco with a 3-2 series lead, but have allowed the Giants to regain some momentum heading home.
If they wind up losing this series in San Francisco, they will look back at this game as a missed opportunity to send the Giants home early.
Final Grade for the Cardinals' Home-Field Advantage: D
Final Grades for Game 5
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The Giants showed, yet again, that they play their best baseball when they're facing adversity.
In its first opportunity to put an end to San Francisco's season, St. Louis did not show the same fight that it had in its Game 5 victory over the Washington Nationals.
As a result, there will be a Game 6 in San Francisco.
Expect the Cardinals to respond with better hitting and starting pitching.
The Giants will have to show the same fight that they had in their previous four elimination situations in order to force a Game 7.
San Francisco's Ryan Vogelsong will face Chris Carpenter in Game 6 on Sunday.
Final Grade for the Giants in Game 5: B+
Final Grade for the Cardinals in Game 5: D+