The Cove
Deep coverage of the Giants

Can #RallyZito Save Giants in NLCS Game 5?

The Giants find themselves in a very uncomfortable place, starting Barry Zito in an elimination game, on the road against the defending World Series champions.

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    When the postseason kicked off, the Giants never could've imagined themselves in this position: starting Barry Zito, on the road, in an elimination game against a lower seed.

    But that's exactly what is happening on Friday night, as Zito takes the mound against Lance Lynn in St. Louis, with the Cardinals looking to seal up an improbable second-straight World Series appearance.

    So, yeah, granted, that lower seed is comprised of a group of playoff zombies who gnaw through opposing pitchers and destroy everything in their way en route to the World Series.

    But let's not forget that the Giants are a bit of a Cinderella team themselves. It wasn't all that long ago that San Francisco was down 2-0 to the Reds, heading to Cincinnati and looking like a defeated squad. One Scott Rolen error later, Zito was on the mound in a road elimination game ... which should sound familiar.

    Zito actually has a better chance of success on Friday than he did against the Reds, provided that he can keep his curveball in check.

    Against Cincy, as noted by the always excellent ESPN Stats & Info blog, Zito got hammered on his curve, giving up three of the four hits he allowed on the pitch, Those hits include a tater to Ryan Ludwick.

    Per that post, only Matt Holliday and David Freese have hits against Zito's curveball. If he gets it working -- and it wasn't working the last time he took the mound -- the Giants can win this game.

    Vegas disagrees with the notion of an upset, making San Francisco the dogs on Friday, with a +140 money line. The Cardinals check in at -155. That's surprisingly high with Lance Lynn on the mound.

    Lynn is 0-2 against the Giants in his career, posting a 7.15 ERA and giving up 12 hits in 11.1 innings, while striking out 11 batters, walking three and giving up two home runs in that time span. 

    The Giants also benefit from having Madison Bumgarner coming out of the pen. He's not great on the road, he's clearly struggled recently, but he's a live arm who can step in if Zito struggles, like Tim Lincecum did during the Reds series.

    But if you want a prediction on who's going to win tonight, here's what I think you should consider: #RallyZito.

    So with that picture forever ingrained in my head, what's my prediction?

    Giants survive to live and move this series back home. There's no way St. Louis is getting to the World Series without some more ridiculous drama. Four strong innings from Zito, an impressive bullpen performance from MadBum and a couple big Buster Posey swings move this series to San Francisco.