Giants announce that Barry Zito will start Game 4

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Rather than go back to their ace on short rest, the Giants plan to start Barry Zito against the Reds if they extend the NLDS to four games, manager Bruce Bochy announced Monday.

The Giants picked Zito over Matt Cain even though it would be a do-or-die situation. Down 2-0 in the best-of-five series, they need to win Tuesday’s Game 3 with Ryan Vogelsong on the mound just to get to Game 4.

The guess here is that if it were a winner-take-all game, the Giants would go with Cain over Zito.  However, they probably feel better about their chances of winning two games with Zito and Cain on regular rest than Cain and Madison Bumgarner on short rest, particularly after Bumgarner struggled last night.

Besides, Zito has been their good-luck charm these last two months. The Giants have won each of his last 11 starts, even though Zito has a 3.91 ERA during the span. Overall, Zito was 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA this season. He went 0-1 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts against the Reds.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. named ALCS MVP

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Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series after his club punched its ticket to the World Series on Thursday night against the Astros.

Coincidentally, the Astros’ Game 5 starter Justin Verlander was ALCS MVP last year en route to a championship.

Bradley went 0-for-3 with a walk in Thursday’s Game 5, but he hit a three-run double in Game 2, a grand slam in Game 3, and a go-ahead two-run home run in Game 4. That’s nine RBI and three extra-base hits across five games. He also drew four walks.

Though Bradley had a solid regular season, he was not near the top of the list most people would’ve expected to win ALCS MVP heading into the series. During the season, he hit .234/.314/.403 with 13 home runs, 59 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 17 stolen bases in 535 plate appearances.