After years of struggles, Barry Zito gets nod in Game 1 

click to enlarge Barry Zito’s stellar start in NLCS Game 5 earned him the nod in Game 1 for the Giants. - CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES
  • Christian Petersen/Getty Images
  • Barry Zito’s stellar start in NLCS Game 5 earned him the nod in Game 1 for the Giants.

Barry Zito was left off of the postseason roster in 2010 and he probably wouldn’t have started Game 5 of the NL Championship Series had Madison Bumgarner not had a rough outing in Game 2. But today, Zito will get the chance to do what every young pitcher dreams about: Start Game 1 of the World Series.

When Zito tosses his first pitch against the Detroit Tigers at AT&T Park, he’ll add another chapter to an incredible redemption story that has seen him go from $126 million goat to team savior.

“It means a lot,” Zito said. “It’s hard to reflect and really become third-person about this experience. It’s more about right now.”

The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner was expected to be the Giants’ ace when he inked a seven-year, $126 million contract with the club in December 2006. But his record in a Giants uniform is a subpar 58-69 and he has yet to finish the year with an ERA below 4.00 in six seasons in The City.

Things started to turn around in April, though, when he pitched a shutout against the Colorado Rockies in his first start of the season. The Giants are now winners in his last 13 starts and his 7²?³ innings of shutout baseball in Game 5 against the St. Louis Cardinals kick-started the team’s historic comeback in the NLCS.  

“For him to be at this point and starting the first game, I was really glad, proud to tell him that,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

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Paul Gackle

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