Bochy offers Zito plaudits, but no playoff slot yet


Bochy offers Zito plaudits, but no playoff slot yet

LOS ANGELES So many adjectives havebeen used to describe Barry Zito over the past six seasons. Overpaid is atrendy one.

Here is another: deserving.

How else to describe a pitcher who hascontributed to 11 consecutive happy handshake lines on his day to pitch? Whofinally received run support and made it stand up for 15 victories? Who putaside the dented pride that came with being playoff-roster chaff three times in2010, and then resurrected himself from a crisis of confidence at the end ofspring training?

Zito had a killer instinct on the moundTuesday night. It was just the right attitude the Giants needed to eliminatetheir archrivals. Zito was masterful into the seventh inning, left to loud boos the universal sound of respect for a Giant at Dodger Stadium and gave theclub what it needed in a 4-3 victory.

Zito ends the season with a 4.15 ERA identical to where he finished in 2010. But the destination looks so much sunnier this time.

I felt pretty good in that seasonexcept for down the stretch, Zito said. This year, it was different. I wasable to keep my focus and make better pitches. I was able to stay under controlcoming down the way and keep my focus.

He will be on the playoff roster forthe NLDS that begins Saturday at AT&T Park. That much manager Bruce Bochy has confirmed. But when would he pitch?

With a stern start in a playoffenvironment, Zito might have made a case to be the Giants Game 3 starter whenthey hit the road, either to Washington or Cincinnati. He certainly has been abetter, more dependable pitcher than Tim Lincecum this season.

For now, Bochy declined to offer Zitomore than plaudits.

Well get together here, Bochy said.But hes done just a terrific job, particularly when you look at winning thelast 11 games. Its a difficult decision and a lot of variables go into it. Buthes pitched great and had great focus out there. Well go meet Thursday andget this thing set.

You couldnt blame Zito for having asense of entitlement. But he made no demands after becoming the first Giantsince Bill Swift in 1992 to lead his team to victories in 11 consecutivestarts.

Whatevers going to happen is going tohappen, Zito said. Bochy makes the decisions around here. Hes done a heck ofa job to this point and I think we all trust him.

Zito was able to trust in his hittersthis season. They scored at least four runs for him in 18 of his 32 starts, andhe went 13-1 in those games. Hes 40-3 in his Giants career when he receives atleast four runs.

He only had 37 such starts over hisfirst five seasons with the club. Thats an average of 7.4 games per season.

So this has been like a tidal wave ofruns this season. Still, he needed to make them stand up. And he has.

He showed mettle by picking up histeammates twice after mistakes in the field. He didnt shrink in the face ofMatt Kemp, who entered with a .462 average in 52 career at-bats against him.

This time, Zito struck out Kemp twice.And when he faced him with two runners in scoring position in the fifth, he pitchedaggressively inside and then sacrificed his shins to make sure the ball wouldntgo through. When Zito threw in time for the out at first base, it was as chargedas hes appeared on a baseball field in a long, long time.

I was pretty fired up, Zito said. Justa lot of history with Kemp, you know? In a big situation like that, it was goodto be able to jam him a little bit.

It was a memorable jam session. Zitohopes the music can linger into late October.

Giants catching prospect Garcia relishing reps in Arizona Fall League


Giants catching prospect Garcia relishing reps in Arizona Fall League

After being selected in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants, catcher Aramis Garcia quickly opened eyes with his power. Garcia totaled 15 home runs between Rookie Ball and Short Season Single-A in only 28 games after the draft. 

The next year, Garcia equaled his 15 long balls and spent the majority of his first full pro season at High Single-A. He also improved overall as a hitter, raising his 2014 slash line of .225/.301/.343 to .264/.342/.431 in 2015. The next climb up the farm system ladder was set in place, until it was gone with an excruciating injury. 

Garcia's 2016 season was limited to 47 games played as he sustained a facial fracture in May while sliding into second base. In an attempt to break up a double play, Garcia took a knee to the face. The injury kept him out until the end of July.

When the chance to play in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions arose, Garcia jumped at the opportunity. 

"First thing I did was call my parents and let them know," Garcia told on Monday. "I was just really excited for getting the opportunity to play against guys who are extremely talented and obviously make up for reps, which are extremely important."

Garcia never did exactly find his rhythm after the injury and finished the season batting .257/.323/.340 with two homers in 41 games. In the first half, the 23-year-old hit .298/.359/.369 compared to a lowly .200/.273/.300 in the second half. 

The catcher known more for his offense than defense, is off to a slow start at the plate while facing some of the top prospects in baseball. Throuh six games, he has gone 3-for-17 at the plate, good for a .176 average. But, Garcia acknowledged he's focusing heavily on his defense in the AFL. 

"I feel like when somebody tries to steal on me, I tend to take it a little bit personally," he said. "It's definitely something I take pride in, something I work on hard every day. There's a little routine I do with receiving and footwork, things like that every day."

Behind the dish, Garcia caught 38 percent of base runners looking to swipe a bag on him last season. Through his three years in the minors, Garcia has erased 34 percent of base stealers and owns a .993 fielding percentage. 

Cubs, Indians name starting pitchers for Game 1 of World Series


Cubs, Indians name starting pitchers for Game 1 of World Series

World Series ace Jon Lester is all set to start Game 1 for the Chicago Cubs.

Lester will be fully rested when he pitches Tuesday night at Cleveland. Corey Kluber will start for the Indians.

The 32-year-old lefty is 2-0 in three starts during this postseason, with wins over the Giants and Dodgers in the NL playoffs. He was 19-5 during the regular season.

Lester is 3-0 in three starts in the World Series with a sparkling 0.43 ERA. He helped the Boston Red Sox win championships in 2007 and 2013.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon says Lester is "really, really in the moment" right now.


Indians ace Corey Kluber will start Game 1 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs.

Manager Terry Francona said Sunday that he will go with Kluber, an 18-ame winner during the regular season, in the opener on Tuesday night. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 0.98 ERA in his first postseason.

Francona has right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin penciled in for Games 2 and 3, respectively. The order could change depending on how Bauer's injured right pinkie heals over the next few days.

Bauer's start in the AL Championship Series lasted less than one inning after his pinkie began bleeding against Toronto. He injured his finger when he sliced it open while repairing a drone.

Also, injured starter Danny Salazar could be available against the Cubs. Salazar hasn't pitched since Sept. 9 because of forearm tightness but he's made major progress in the past week and could be on the World Series roster.