Bay Area Buzz 9/26: Zito’s Awkward Farewell, Rams Know How to Beat 49ers, Niemi Confident

April 05, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Barry Zito (75) leaves after the end of the top of seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT

Zito’s Awkward Final Exit

Zito left the game with a 5-2 lead but without the ovation from the crowd that would have made the night complete, due to his awkward removal.

A player being celebrated, officially or otherwise, often leaves the game in prolonged or calculated fashion to enable him to bask in the fans’ adulation one final time. But when Zito strode from the mound after pitching the fifth inning, there was no indication that it was his last. He simply and unceremoniously disappeared as Roger Kieschnick pinch-hit for him to open the Giants’ half of the inning. The Giants didn’t even send Zito to the on-deck circle before pulling him back, which might have given attentive fans a chance to realize what was occurring.

A small knot of fans sitting behind first base began chanting Zito’s last name during the top of the sixth inning, to no avail.

- Christ Haft, MLB.com

Rams Have Been 49ers’ Achilles Heel

While other teams frantically searched for solutions to the zone-read attack that Kaepernick brought to the table, the Rams found ways to at least slow him down and force a key mistake. Yes, Kaepernick ripped off a 50-yard gain in the second meeting, but he also tossed an errant pitch that the Rams recovered for a touchdown.

Instead of sitting back and waiting for Kaepernick & Co. to dictate the tempo, the Rams came up ready to be aggressive and attack, making Kaepernick pay every time he left the pocket.

On the other side of the ball, the Rams showed a willingness to do the thing other teams wouldn’t against the Niners: run the ball. The Rams averaged only 3.8 yards per carry in the two games, but they stuck to it, attempting 64 runs and keeping the Niners honest.

By the time the Rams completed their comeback to win the second meeting, frustration was evident for both teams but even more so for the Niners.

- Nick Wagoner, ESPN.com

Niemi Confident Entering New Season

Sharks goalie Antti Niemi showed up at training camp this season feeling better about his play than he did at the start of the last one.

Career-best stats, recognition as a Vezina Trophy finalist and consideration for Team Finland in the 2014 Winter Olympics will do that for your self-esteem. But Niemi was very much aware that his play is only as good as what comes next.

Two starts into the exhibition season and the day after a 24-save shutout of the Vancouver Canucks, his confidence is even higher.

- David Pollak, San Jose Mercury News

Topics: San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Giants, San Jose Sharks

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