The Giants were shoved to the brink of extinction Thursday night by the St. Louis Cardinals and now, trailing 3-1, they trot Barry Zito out.
There is one tiny ray of hope for the Giants. If they could somehow win today and take the NL Championship Series back to San Francisco, they’d have Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain ready for the final two games.
But, have I said they’re starting Barry Zito today?
Thursday night’s game was all about the Cardinals’ starter, Adam Wainwright, who didn’t throw a pitch as the Cardinals won the World Series in 2011 because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery.
It seemed as if he’d never been away as he had his way with the Giants, except for a solo home run by Hunter Pence and a triple by Angel Pagan, mostly with a curve ball that dipped away from Giants hitters.
Wainwright pitched with a lead all the way, after the Cardinals scored two runs in the first inning, and his one anxious moment came in the sixth. With two outs, the Giants had two runners on base and Buster Posey at the plate.
It seemed this might be the time Cardinals manager Mike Matheny would go to his excellent and deep bullpen, but he stayed with Wainright, and the Cardinals starter got Posey to hit a fly to medium deep right field for the final out. And then, he added a scoreless seventh inning before his night was over.
Tim Lincecum, getting a start because he’d pitched well in relief — and because manager Bruce Bochy had no good choices, with Madison Bumgarner having a dead arm — did nothing to prove that he’d come out of his season-long funk. Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti had him pitching out of the stretch to cut down on his complicated windup, but even with that he was all over the place with his pitches in the first inning, fortunate that he only gave up two runs.
Lincecum settled down some after the first but then weakened again in the fifth, giving up two more runs before his night ended. He’d thrown nearly 100 pitches, an indication of his control problems.
Only two Giants could be proud of what they did last night.
One was Marco Scutaro, who had another two-hit game. Scutaro has been a marvel for the Giants since they got him from Colorado, both with his hitting and his fielding, because he’s filled a hole at second the Giants have had since Freddy Sanchez’s last injury.
Pagan had an even better game, jumping higher than the center field fence to take away what might have been a home run by Yadier Molina. Pagan has had a superb season, both in the field and at bat, and the Giants should make every effort to keep him.
It probably won’t be long now before the Giants have to concentrate on player decisions for next year because this season is almost lost.
They caught some breaks in the first playoff series against Cincinnati, a series they could easily have lost in three games. But their luck has run out against the hot Cardinals.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.