SAN FRANCISCO -- It's a part of his job Giants manager Bruce Bochy doesn't relish, dropping the poison pill in a player's ear the way he had to do when he told veteran Barry Zito the team's postseason roster had no place for him in October 2010.
So on Tuesday, when Bochy informed Zito that the left-hander will make the Game 1 start in the 2012 World Series, he couldn't help but enjoy the opportunity to pass along much better news."I couldn't be happier for him. It says a lot about his mental toughness, his makeup," Bochy said.
Cy Young matchup
|Date||Game||Pitchers and WS teams||Winner|
|11/1/2010||5||Cliff Lee/Rangers vs. Tim Lincecum/Giants||Giants|
|10/27/2010||1||Cliff Lee/Rangers vs. Tim Lincecum/Giants||Giants|
|10/28/2009||1||Cliff Lee/Phillies vs. CC Sabathia/Yankees||Phillies|
|10/27/1999||4||John Smoltz/Braves vs. Roger Clemens/Yankees||Yankees|
|10/22/1996||3||David Cone/Yankees vs. Tom Glavine/Braves||Yankees|
|10/26/1995||5||Greg Maddux/Braves vs. Orel Hershiser/Indians||Indians|
|10/21/1995||1||Orel Hershiser/Indians vs. Greg Maddux/Braves||Braves|
|10/14/1983||3||Mike Flanagan/Orioles vs. Steve Carlton/Phillies||Orioles|
Zito, 34, is light years away from that 2010 disappointment, coming off a brilliant start in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series and matched against Tigers ace Justin Verlander in the opener of the Giants' second appearance in the World Series in three years.Suffice to say, this little bit of news was something Bochy didn't mind delivering. "For him to keep grinding, as we say, and trying to get better, for him to be at this point and starting the first game, I was really glad, proud to tell him that," Bochy said Tuesday. Two years later is, well, two years later, and 2010 is not something Zito really focuses on as he is back where he and the Giants believe he belongs -- on the mound in a crucial postseason game. "It's not important to reflect right now. There's work to do," Zito said. "I'm going to be on the mound here in the next 24 hours, so that's where my focus is at."
Tale of the Tape: Game 1
|2012 regular season|
|Overall: 33 GS, 17-8, 2.64 ERA, 60 BB, 239 K||Overall: 32 GS, 15-8, 4.15 ERA, 70 BB, 114 K|
|Key stat: He has posted a 0.69 ERA in his last seven starts, going back to the regular season.||Key stat: Including the postseason, he has lasted at least 5 2/3 innings and allowed no more than three runs in six of his last seven starts.|
|At AT&T Park|
Career: 1 GS, 0-0, 3.00 ERA
| 2012: 17 GS, 8-5, 4.00 ERA
Career: 86 GS, 30-35, 4.21 ERA
|Against this opponent|
Career: 1 GS, 0-0, 3.00 ERA
Career:16 GS, 8-6, 2.91 ERA
|Loves to face: Marco Scutaro: 5-for-25, 9 K
Hates to face: Angel Pagan: 2-for-5, 3B, RBI
|Loves to face: Omar Infante: 3-for-20, 4 K
Hates to face: Delmon Young: 2-for-3, 2B, RBI
|Why he'll win: He has dominated throughout the postseason and owns a career 2.64 ERA in Interleague Play, including 1.62 this year.||Why he'll win: Zito threw seven shutout innings in Game 5 of the NLCS, and the Tigers have been weaker against left-handed pitching.|
|Pitcher beware: Verlander gave up 10 runs -- seven earned -- over 11 innings in his other World Series appearance, in 2006.||Pitcher beware: AL clubs reached Zito for 16 earned runs on 23 hits and four homers in 14 2/3 innings this season.|
|Bottom line: Verlander is the Tigers' ace, one of the elite pitchers in baseball and has been pitching at his best of late.||Bottom line: Zito's well-paid tenure with the Giants has been shaky, but he came up huge in his last start, with the season on the line.|
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.