Giants place season in hands of RallyZito


Giants place season in hands of RallyZito

ST. LOUIS Barry Zitos relationship with Giants fans hasbeen difficult and often unpleasant over the past six years.

But with a season in his hands Friday night, fans arerallying behind Zito as never before. The RallyZito movement is taking off onTwitter, as legions of Giants fans changed their avatar picture to an image ofthe unique left-hander.

Lets just say that many of them are highly entertaining.Were talking about a pitcher who once had a second gig as a jeans model,remember.

But it will be all serious business when Zito takes themound for Game 5, hoping to keep the Giants alive in an NLCS that the St. LouisCardinals lead three games to one. If Zito and Co. can find a way through, theGiants would take the series back to San Francisco where Ryan Vogelsong andMatt Cain would offer authentic hope.

Zito, 34, has been in this position before. In fact, hepitched an elimination game last week at Cincinnati, and even though he didntmake it out of the third inning, the Giants managed to win for a 12thconsecutive time with the left-hander on the mound.

Zito allowed two runs, walked four and gave up a home run inthat start at Cincinnati, but he had a tight strike zone from umpire DanIassogna and only missed badly during one confrontation with Jay Bruce.

ZITO: Season stats

His stuff, actually, wasnt bad.

I don't think it was so much mechanicalmental, Zito said.I think it was just more about nitpicking on the corners too much, and insteadof just being aggressive. I'm going to go out there and be aggressivetomorrow and let my defense work for me.

Not too aggressive, though. The Cardinals led the NL with a.279 average against left-handed pitching, and they took apart MadisonBumgarner in Game 1. Six projected starters hit better than .300 against leftiesin the regular season, with Yadier Molina (.342, eight homers in 111 at-bats),David Freese (.320, five homers in 122 at-bats) and Matt Holliday (.316, 11homers in 155 at-bats) all looming as threats.

There is no bigger lefty basher in the Cardinals lineup thanfirst baseman Allen Craig. The Cal alum hit .354 with eight homers in 127at-bats against them.

Two of Craigs homers came against Zito on Aug. 7, whencoincidentally, the left-hander opposed Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn thesame matchup set for Game 5.

But Zito gave up no other runs in his 6 23 innings whilepitching the Giants to a 4-2 win and thus began the teams current streak of12 consecutive victories with Zito on the mound.

And one other note: He threw to Buster Posey that day.

GAME 5 Lineups: Back to usual in anything but usual game

Zito went back and watched video of that start, both toremind himself of what sequences and pitches worked well, and remind himselfwhat the Cardinals might be expecting from him next.

Yeah, I've already watched everything, Zito said. I justbasically look at what their guys do against lefthanded pitchers.Certain guys have certain tendencies on certain pitches, things they like,things they don't like.

I know these guys.These guys know me. We've allbeen in this league for a while. With the exception of a couple of guysin the lineup we all know what we're up against.

Zito is making his ninth career playoff start, but never onethis deep into the postseason. His only other LCS start came with the As in2006, when he got hit hard by the Detroit Tigers (3 23 innings, seven hits,five runs, two homers) in a Game 1 loss.

The current Tigers await the NL pennant winner in the WorldSeries. Its up to Zito to keep the Giants on the path. If he struggles, Madison Bumgarner will be called upon to bridge the gap.

This is what Zito had to say after his last start at BuschStadium. It seems appropriate to include now:

I always try to have fun playing the game, he said.Sometimes its more fun than others. But I love the chemistry in thisclubhouse. I want to stay healthy, get out there every five and help this teamwin.

Ill let you know at the end of the season how happy I am.

Report: Giants make trade offer for Giancarlo Stanton


Report: Giants make trade offer for Giancarlo Stanton

The hot stove is heating up. 

Giancarlo Stanton is the biggest name swirling in trade rumors and the Giants are reportedly pushing forward in their attempt to acquire the slugger. San Francisco's front office has proposed a trade to Miami for Stanton, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic

Details of what the Giants offered have not been reported yet. 

Stanton, who recently turned 28, is guaranteed $295 million over the next 10 seasons. His contract includes a full no-trade clause and an opt-out after 2020. 

On Thursday, Stanton was named the National League MVP after hitting .281 with a league-leading 59 home runs and 132 RBI. The last MVP to be traded in the offseason after winning the award was Alex Rodriguez from the Rangers to the Yankees before the 2004 season. 

How seven Giants prospects performed in the 2017 Arizona Fall League


How seven Giants prospects performed in the 2017 Arizona Fall League

The Arizona Fall League came to an end for seven Giants prospects on Thursday as the Scottsdale Scorpions (12-17-1) came up short from playing in Saturday's championship game. 

Let's take a look at how these seven names fared against some of the top young talent in all of baseball. 

The Hitters

As the Giants are linked to trade targets in center field like Billy Hamilton and Jackie Bradley Jr., a young in-house option only helped his case in the desert.

Steven Duggar likely would have seen the AT&T outfield this season, but his season was hindered by injuries, keeping him to only 44 games between three levels. With the Scorpions, Duggar took advantage of his opportunity with more at-bats. 

Duggar left Arizona with a .263/.367/.421 slash line over 20 games. The speedy lefty also stole nine bases and hit three home runs. Even if the Giants go for an experienced glove in center field this offseason and keep Duggar, the 24-year-old has also played 135 games in right field during his minor league career. 

For the second straight year, the Giants sent catcher Aramis Garcia to the AFL. And he's sure to be coming home much happier this go around with an up-and-down campaign.

Splitting time behind the plate with three other catchers, Garcia appeared in 13 games and slashed .259/.293/.333 and hit one home run. Garcia struggled to get one base with only one walk to 10 strikeouts, but showed his natural ability to drive runs in with 10 RBI. 

Rounding out the Giants' trio of bats they sent to Arizona is arguably their top prospect, but his time in the AFL was cut short. Chris Shaw only played in five games and hit .158. He dealt with a sore shoulder.

The Pitchers

The Giants sent two starting pitchers (Tyler Beede and Joan Gregorio) and two relievers (Tyler Cyr and D.J. Snelten) to the AFL. 

Pitching for the first time in nearly three months, Beede showed exactly why he's the Giants' top pitching prospect. Beede went 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in four starts, but his final three show the potential he's full of -- 14 innings pitched, three earned runs, a 1.93 ERA, 10 strikeouts and only one walk. 

Gregorio, who was suspended this season for Performance Enhancing Drugs, pitched in eight games (three starts) for Scottsdale. He left with a 1-0 record and 5.87 ERA. In Triple-A, Gregorio went 4-4 with a 3.04 ERA this year over 13 starts. The 25-year-old presents an interesting arm that can help sooner than later in the bullpen. 

Cyr's stats don't look pretty (0-1, 5.63 ERA, 8 IP), but he's catching some attention. The right-hander was named to the Fall Stars Game and is most likely to start 2018 in Triple-A after converting 18 saves at Double-A in 2017. 

Snelten, a 6-foot-7 lefty, impressed in eight appearances out of the bullpen. He didn't allow an earned run until his final outing of the fall, bringing his ERA from a perfect 0.00 to 2.25 in 12 innings pitched.

After combining for a 2.20 ERA to go with an 8-1 record between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017, Snelten is a name to know as the Giants look to find more lefties for their bullpen.