ST. LOUIS Giants pitcher Barry Zito walked into the interview room at Busch Stadium on Thursday with his cap on backward. He stopped, pushed his hair back and flipped the cap around before settling in front of the microphone and cameras.
Zito, who will start Game 5 of the National League Championship Series today for the Giants in a park where he has a career 8.20 ERA, was keeping his cool a day before his latest biggest outing of the year.
The left-hander's one start this postseason came in a must-win situation with the Giants down 2-1 in the N.L. Division Series. Zito lasted just 22/3 innings while giving up two runs on four hits and walking four, but he said Thursday that the problems weren't mechanical or mental.
"I think it was just more about nitpicking on the corners too much, instead of just being aggressive," Zito said. "I'm going to go out there and be aggressive (today) and let my defense work for me."
Readying for his start, Zito said he watched film of his Aug. 7 outing against the Cardinals a 4-2 Giants win meaning he should need no reminder about being careful with St. Louis first baseman Allen Craig.
Zito went 62/3 innings in that game and allowed two runs on two solo homers by Craig. In his career against Zito, Craig is 4 for 10 with three homers, and he isn't the only Cardinal with success against Zito.
Catcher Yadier Molina is 6 for 16 (.375) lifetime against Zito, while Matt Holliday is 7 for 31 with two homers. Zito, though, said he doesn't put much stock into the statistics.
"There's certain things that you get guys on a hot streak or sometimes you throw good pitches and guys hit them," Zito said.
"You can't change your game plan too much, though. You just look more inside the numbers than just a stat. You actually look at the at-bat."
Nor, apparently, does Zito's high ERA in four career starts at Busch Stadium cloud his feelings about the place. He said he's actually pretty fond of it.
"Oh, yeah, it's always like a college football game here with the fan support," Zito said. "Everyone is out there wearing red."
Lest it sound as if Zito's confusing it with a home game at his alma mater, USC, he said he has a sentimental tie to the stadium as well.
"St. Louis is definitely special to me, because my wife's from two hours south of here," Zito said. "I get a lot of the family coming up."
Et cetera Manager Bruce Bochy confirmed that right-handers Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain are in line to start Games 6 and 7, should the series go that far.
Major League Baseball announced that Sunday's Game 6 would start at 4:45 p.m. at AT&T Park, if it is needed.
The Cardinals brought Hall of Famer Stan Musial onto the field before Game 4. Musial was driven around the field in a golf cart that stopped at both dugouts, where managers Mike Matheny and Bochy shook hands with Musial, 91. "Stan the Man" played all 22 of his big-league seasons for the Cardinals and hit .331.