Barry Zito turns back the clock with gem in Game 5

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10 years after winning a Cy Young Award for the A’s, six years after signing one of the worst contracts in major league history and two years after being left off the postseason roster for the World Series champions, Barry Zito finally came up big for the Giants on Friday.

With his team on the verge of elimination, Zito shut out the Cardinals for 7 2/3 innings in a 5-0 victory, sending the ALCS back to San Francisco for a Game 6 on Sunday.

It was actually the 13th straight start of Zito’s that the Giants have won, but tonight was easily the left-hander’s best outing during the run. He had a 4.04 ERA during the previous 12 starts and had pitched more than seven innings just once.

That surge left Zito with far and away his best win-loss record in six years with the Giants. At 15-8, it was his first season over .500 since 2006, his last year with Oakland. Still, his 4.15 ERA was no better than his marks from 2009 and 2010. He finished with the worst strikeout rate of his career, fanning just 114 batters in 184 1/3 innings. Six years into a seven-year, $126 million deal, he has a 58-69 record and a 4.47 ERA for the Giants.

For one night, though, it hardly matters. Zito’s win tonight was his first in a postseason game since the 2006 ALDS with the A’s. He was a fine postseason pitcher for Oakland, going 4-3 with a 3.25 ERA in seven starts, but the Giants had no need of him when they won the World Series in 2010, opting to  leave him off the roster for all three series while they went with a rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner.

And if not for Bumgarner’s struggles in Game 1, Zito may never have gotten the call in this series, either. The Giants were lining up Lincecum for Game 4, and Bumgarner was initially supposed to pitch Game 5. It was Bumgarner’s 11.25 ERA in two postseason starts that led to the change of heart.

Now Zito is the hero, turning in the best start by a Giants hurler in 10 postseason games to date. If his teammates can help him out Sunday and Monday, then he’ll be lined up to start a World Series game for the first time in his career.

Autopsy report reveals morphine, Ambien in Roy Halladay’s system

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Traces of morphine, amphetamine, Prozac and Ambien were found in Roy Halladay’s system at the time of his death, according to the autopsy findings Zachary T. Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times reported Friday. The former Phillies and Blue Jays ace and two-time Cy Young Award winner was killed in a plane crash off the Gulf of Mexico last November. While the exact cause of the incident has not yet been determined, it was a combination of blunt force trauma and drowning that resulted in the 40-year-old’s death.

Further details from the NY Daily News revealed that Halladay sustained a fractured leg and a “subdural hemorrhage, multiple rib fractures, and lung, liver and spleen injuries” during the crash. As for the drugs present in his system, the autopsy report suggests that the presence of morphine could be linked to heroin use, though there’s no clear evidence that he did so.

The toxicology results also determined that Halladay had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.01. A BAC of 0.08 is the legal limit for operating a car, but current FAA regulations prohibit any alcohol consumption for eight hours before operating aircraft. Halladay was both the pilot and sole passenger aboard the plane when it crashed.

Previous statements from the National Transportation Safety Board indicate that the investigation is still ongoing and could take up to two years to resolve.