It wasn’t bad enough for the St. Louis Cardinals to witness the San Francisco Giants recieve their 2013 World Series rings today — an event that a cynical fan might consider rubbing it in. To pour salt in the wound, Barry Zito again managed to hold down the Cardinals offense hurling seven masterful innings.
It seemed to be an eerie reminder of fall 2012 when the Giants eliminated the Cardinals on their way to the World Series. Zito pitched seven-plus with six strikeouts and no earned runs. He again held the Cardinals in check this afternoon with seven scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter reached base twice for St. Louis, but were unable to cross the plate — the Cardinals didn’t have a runner in scoring position until the seventh inning. It was unfortunate for Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook because he pitched almost as good as Zito — an outing that could be considered the best for the starting rotation thus far, if not for the six walks. Westbrook pitched into the seventh, which gave the St. Louis bullpen an extra day of rest following the 16 inning loss against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday.
In the end, the afternoon clearly belonged to Zito who hasn’t lost a start against St. Louis since April of 2011. It should be noted that Zito owes a lot of his success today to third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who made some spectacular plays. At risk of opening a can of worms, you could argue that Zito — and to a lesser degree Westbroo — had some ‘assistance’ from some questionable umpiring at home plate.
Despite how well Zito pitched, concern is starting to mount over the lack of runs the Cardinals have produced since the early barrage in Wednesday’s game with the Diamondbacks. This was an issue last season with St. Louis and the trend seems to be continuing. Coupled with the (premature) worries over the bullpen, this could spell trouble for the Cardinals — falling behind early in the division isn’t something they want to do.