Giants’ All-Star catcher Buster Posey continued his torrid second half with a first inning, three-run home run off of St. Louis Cardinal’s starter Lance Lynn to help Barry Zito and the Giants beat the Cardinals 4-2 on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium. Posey leads the major leagues with 30 RBIs since the All-Star break, and he’s sustaining an impressive .432 batting average over an 11-game hitting streak. He has improved his season batting average to .328, and he has now tied his 2010 mark of 18 home runs by August 7th of his first full season in 2012. He looks to stay hot and help keep the Giants atop the NL West, who extended their lead to 1.5 games over the Dodgers Tuesday night.
Tuesday’s game also marked only the third time that Barry Zito and Buster Posey have been battery mates this season. Zito had a 11.35 ERA in three career outings at Busch Stadium entering Tuesday, but Zito had great control with his cutter and off-speed pitches that allowed him to limit the tough Cardinals lineup to two earned runs on two solo home runs by OF Allen Craig over 6 2/3 innings with zero walks. Zito focused on the fundamentals in this game, explaining in his post-game interview his goals of “Being aggressive, throwing strikes. When you do that, you put pressure on them. They’ll swing at pitches out of the zone. They’ll just react differently.”
Zito has been a very pleasant surprise this season, now posting a 9-8 record with a 4.19 ERA in his sixth and most consistent season as a Giant.
The Giants added an insurance run on an RBI double by Joaquin Arias in the seventh inning. Arias has been a valuable utility player defensively in Pablo Sandoval’s absence, and his recent improvements at the plate are a pleasant sight for his future role this season. The infield coalition of Sandoval, Arias, Crawford, Scutaro, and Theriot forms a solid defensive unit with good speed with decent offensive potential, with added position flexibility to give manager Bruce Bochy plenty of options with starting lineups and substitutions in the later innings.
Bochy announced prior to the game the new format and roles of the Giants bullpen due to the recent struggles and blister injury of Santiago Casilla. The modified “closer by committee” will utilize both Sergio Romo and Jeremy Affeldt with split duties as the “closer” depending on the late-inning situation. Casilla, along with Javier Lopez, newly acquired reliever Jose Mijares, George Kontos, Brad Penny, and Clay Hensley will be available in the bullpen in other situations. Judging by the Giants tendancy for close, low-scoring games, the strength and consistency of the bullpen will be extremely important during the stretch run if the Giants hope to secure a playoff spot.
The third game of the four-game series between the Giants (60-50) and Cardinals (60-50) features a matchup of Ryan Vogelsong (9-5, 2.38 ERA) and Joe Kelly (2-4, 3.14 ERA) at 5:15 PDT.