UPDATE: It’s official, Zito will start Game 1.
There’s no official word yet on the Giants’ rotation for the World Series, but Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports that Barry Zito is likely to get the call for Game 1 against the Tigers.
He’d face Justin Verlander in a matchup of former Cy Young winners (which sounds perfectly normal except for the part about Zito winning his in 2002).
That represents a helluva turnaround for a guy who was left off the postseason roster during the Giants’ run to the World Series in 2010, but Zito came up huge with 7.2 shutout innings in Game 5 of the NLCS and according to Baggarly “word around the team is that Zito deserves the honor.”
Zito struggled against right-handed hitters all season, allowing them to bat .281 with an .823 OPS (compared to .209 with a .559 OPS versus lefties), so matching up with a Detroit lineup that includes righties Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, Delmon Young, Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante, and Avisail Garcia isn’t ideal. Of course, the same was even more true of a Cardinals lineup filled with good right-handed bats and Zito shut them down.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.