Barry Zito holds Cardinals scoreless through seven innings

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The Giants likely would have been thrilled if Barry Zito made it through five innings tonight while keeping the team in the game, but he has exceeded all expectations by holding the Cardinals scoreless through seven innings.

Zito has allowed just five hits and one walk (which was intentional) while striking out five. The southpaw got off to a bit of a shaky start in the first two innings, but retired 11 in a row until a two-out single by Daniel Descalso in the seventh. He’s at 99 pitches through seven, but will get a chance to start the eighth inning at the very least. If the Giants can hold on, Zito will have his first postseason win since Game 1 of the 2006 ALDS against the Twins.

Pablo Sandoval just tacked on a solo homer against Mitchell Boggs, so the Giants currently lead this one 5-0 going into the bottom of the eighth.

A.J. Hinch responds to Ken Giles’ negative comments about Astros

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On Sunday, Blue Jays closer Ken Giles spoke to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star. Giles said, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston.” Giles won a World Series with the Astros last year, but talked about communication issues with the Astros and compared them unfavorably to the Blue Jays. Giles described the communication as having been “lost” and credited the Jays for staying patient with him.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch responded to Giles’ comments on Monday. Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Hinch said:

I think he’s wrong and I’m disappointed that he would go down that path given how much work and time and energy and communication that our front office, our coaching staff, me, we all went through this with him. And I understand, there was some disappointment in his tenure as an Astro because of the turbulent way things went about. We gave him every opportunity, we communicated with him effectively, we have an incredible culture where every single player will tell you it’s one of the best cultures they’ve had, one of the best communication envrionments they’ve had. They all know their roles. They all know their situations. To have one person out of all the guys in our clubhouse come out and claim otherwise is flat wrong.

While Giles certainly could be embellishing or deliberately misconstruing his time there, Hinch’s rebuttal doesn’t actually disqualify anything Giles said. Giles certainly could have had a negative experience in Houston even if everyone else was enjoying the “incredible culture” and “one of the best communication environments.”

Given how the Astros — including Hinch — responded to criticism about their acquiring an accused domestic abuser, they’re not in the best position to boast about an “incredible culture” anyway.

At any rate, this is a he-said, he-said situation. If anything more comes of it, it will be Giles further torching a bridge.