Barry Zito shuts down Cardinals in Game 5 of NLCS to keep Giants’ season alive

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With the Giants facing elimination, Barry Zito didn’t inspire much confidence coming into his start in Game 5 tonight. However, he turned in the best performance by a Giants’ starting pitcher this postseason while keeping his team’s season alive.

Zito limited to Cardinals to six hits over 7 2/3 shutout innings tonight as part of a 5-0 victory. The win means there will be a Game 6 on Sunday night back in San Francisco.

Despite topping out at just 86 mph, Zito struck out six and walked one (intentional) while throwing a season-high 115 pitches. The intentional walk came at a critical point in the game in the second inning, as it loaded the bases for opposing pitcher Lance Lynn, who grounded into an inning-ending double play. The southpaw was the beneficiary of some excellent defense and home plate umpire Ted Barrett gave him the edge on a few pitches, but this was a mighty impressive performance from an unexpected source.

The Giants chased Lance Lynn in the fourth inning by scoring four runs. The rally was capped by Zito (who else?), who dropped down a bunt and beat it out for a hit to drive in a run. Pablo Sandoval added a solo home run in the eighth inning, his second home run in as many days, for some extra insurance.

Many were ready to write the Giants off after Game 4 last night, but this series is suddenly far from finished. Ryan Vogelsong is lined up to start for the Giants in Game 6 on Sunday while the Cardinals will counter with Chris Carpenter. If there’s a Game 7 on Monday, it will be Matt Cain against Kyle Lohse.

Giancarlo Stanton to begin rehab assignment tonight

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Giancarlo Stanton will begin a minor league rehab assignment Monday with High-A Tampa. That according to the team’s Tweet to that effect.

Stanton has been on the injured list since April 1 due to a left biceps strain and a left shoulder strain sustained in what Aaron Boone called a “funky swing” at the time. Figure he’ll need a week or so of minor league games to get back to playing speed.

At the time Stanton’s injury seemed to be a catastrophic thing for the team’s chances, but after a sluggish start the Yankees have been on fire for weeks and now sit in first place in the American League East.

Still, getting Stanton back will be a big boost for the New York lineup. He’s hit a few homers in his time, I hear.