This certainly isn’t the same pitching staff that anchored the 2010 World Series team: Tim Lincecum was the Game 1 and Game 5 starter, with Matt Cain following him admirably in Game 2. Jonathan Sanchez took the baton in Game 3, then Madison Bumgarner threw a gem in Game 4. The Giants’ biggest disappointment, Barry Zito, was left off of the playoff roster completely.
And, oh, how they change. After winning 15 games this season and hitting his career apex in Game 5 of the NLCS, Zito will take on Detroit Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the World Series today. Not that Zito would have gotten this start had the rest of the Giants’ staff been on regular rest, but opportunity has presented itself to the 126-million-dollar-man over and over again this season. Nearly every time, Zito has answered the call. Now his name is atop the marquee, with Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong and Cain to follow him.
How the Tigers stack up historically against Zito:
Some Tigers have seen quite a bit of Zito, including Omar Infante, who is 3-for-20, Prince Fielder, who is 3-for-18 with a double and a home run, and Jhonny Peralta, who is 3-for-14 with two walks and a homer as well.
The good news is that none of the Tigers that have actually faced Zito are hitting over .250 against him. The better news: there’s no sign of Victor Martinez, who is 9-for-23 (.391 BA) lifetime against the Giants’ lefty.
The Giants have seen even less of Verlander:
Small sample sizes, meet smaller sample sizes. The Giants who has the most experience against Verlander is Marco Scutaro, who is 5-for-23 lifetime against the Tigers’ ace. He does have a triple, but more surprisingly, Verlander has struck him out eight times. Pagan’s 2-for-5 is somewhat promising, as is Sandoval’s triple in the All Star Game, but beyond that, we’d just be grasping at straws.
The bottom line is only three players off the Giants’ bench have really seen Verlander. He is another in a long list of starters that most people believe the Giants won’t be able to crack. Then again, this Giants’ postseason has been all about defying odds, and they’ll have to do it at least one more time, starting tonight at AT&T Park.