Let the second guessing of manager Bruce Bochy’s decision to start Barry Zito over Tim Lincecum continue, not that there was any shortage of it in the media leading up to the beginning of game four in Cincinnati to begin with.
Regardless of whether you felt the Giants unbeaten record in Zito’s past 11 starts earned him the start over the struggling two-time former Cy Young winner or not, the end result was exactly what San Francisco needed, Giants over the Reds 8-3 to even the series at two games apiece.
For his part, Zito lasted just 2.2 innings before he was shown the bench by his manager in favor of the bullpen. He allowed four hits and four walks along his way to giving up two runs. He struck out four batters as well.
The game started rough for Barry when he walked three batters in the first inning, including walking in the first run of the game. He got two quick outs in Brandon Phillips and Zach Cozart before Joey Votto singled for the first Reds hit of the game. Zito then walked Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier consecutively to force in Votto for the run before finally retiring Dionar Navarro to end the inning.
The Reds tacked on their second run against Zito in the third inning on a leadoff homer by Ludwick. After retiring the next two batters, he proceeded to walk Navarro and Bochy had seen enough.
George Kontos came in and retired the first batter he faced to end the inning. Kontos would record one more out in the fourth inning but not before letting the pitcher, Mike Leake, single off him to open the inning. He then struck out Phillips but allowed Cozart to single and move Leake over to second.
Jose Mijares came in and retired the only batter he would face, and then it was time for Lincecum.
Tim pitched 4.1 innings out of the bullpen, allowing just one run on four hits with no walks and six strikeouts, showing that he still has the killer instinct to lock down opposing hitters in big games.
“I just wanted to hear my name, do what I can when I can,” Lincecum told MLB.com’s Chris Haft following the start. “Today was that day. So I’m just trying to come in and try to keep the game where it was, and our team did a good job stacking up some more runs.”
Lincecum’s performance in the clutch out of the bullpen will lend fuel to the argument that should the Giants advance to the NLCS, he deserves a spot in the starting rotation over Zito. His track record along with the performances of both pitchers in Game 4 should earn him the nod.
The San Francisco offense did their part in bailing out Zito and staking Lincecum to the win, scoring eight times in support of their pitchers.
Angel Pagan got the scoring started early with a homer to lead-off the game. Gregor Blanco added a two-run blast to score Hector Sanchez in the second inning and stake the Giants to an early 3-1 lead.
Joaquin Arias scored in the fifth inning on a double by Pagan. Pagan then came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Pablo Sandoval, pushing the Giants lead to 5-2.
San Francisco added three more runs to push the score to 8-3 in the seventh inning. Arias scored on an RBI double by Marco Scutaro. Sandoval then added the final blow with a two-run homer to score Scutaro as well.
“Their pitching has done a great job, but today we threw out some quality at-bats and the long ball, which we’re not known for,” said Bochy. “That was big for us tonight, the home runs. It’s always important when they score you answer back, and the club did a great job of doing that tonight.”
The Giants out hit the Reds 11-9 en route to the win.
Game 5 will be played tomorrow at 10:00am local time. The Giants will send Matt Cain to the mound to face Matt Latos of the Reds.