With the Giants facing elimination in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals, Zito produced arguably his best start in his San Francisco career — given the circumstances.
"This is definitely it for me," Zito said, to MLB.com. "There are definitely some playoff memories there, but they were all in a different uniform. This was probably the biggest one for me, especially doing it for the Giants."
A cast-off during the team's run to the 2010 World Series, Zito could be credited to spearheading the comeback process on Friday, tossing 7 2/3 masterful innings to lead the Giants to a 5-0 victory.
It was his first postseason win since Oct. 3, 2006, when he was an ace on the Athletics' staff. Since signing a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Giants shortly thereafter; Zito has never replicated that success.
In Oakland, he pieced together a 102-63 record with a 3.55 ERA.During his time with San Francisco, Zito has compiled a 58-69 record with a 4.47 ERA, well short of expectations for the 2002 Cy Young Award winner.
This year, he started the redemption process, posting a 15-8 record.
But Friday's performance against the Cardinals capped his revival. While he didn't blow anyone away with his heat — his fastball reached 85 mph — Zito flummoxed hitters with his curveball.
Zito showed signs of brilliance earlier in the series. Although he unraveled in his Game 1 start against the Cardinals, it's forgotten that he tossed three no-hit innings to start the game.
Little by little, he's rebuilding himself after being left off the 2010 playoff roster that won the World Series. So much so, he even contributed at the plate, driving in a run with a bunt single.
If the Giants go on to survive the series, it could be credited to Zito's $126 million arm.