SAN FRANCISCO - From postseason bystander to starting the World Series opener. That's how far Barry Zito has come in two years to resurrect his career.
The resurgent left-hander will pitch Game 1 for the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers.
Manager Bruce Bochy said Tuesday he will go with Zito, who has turned around his career this year. His stellar outing in a 5-0 victory on Friday night in Game 5 of the NL championship series at Busch Stadium helped San Francisco rally from a 3-1 series deficit against the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals to return to the World Series for the second time in three years.
Left off the postseason roster for all three rounds when the Giants won it all in 2010, Zito made a conscious decision to find his way by just plain having fun again - forgetting one bad start and moving on to the next. Whatever he has done to change his mental approach, it has certainly paid off on the mound.
It doesn't hurt he now has four pitches to baffle batters aside from just that nasty curveball that has defined his career back in the early days of the Big Three - with Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder - across the bay with the Oakland Athletics.
"It's hard to sum it up in one answer," Zito said after beating the Cardinals. "It's just a plethora of things that I've done and gone through here with the Giants. But the most important thing was to come out and give everything I've got." The Giants
And what ideal timing for Zito to shine in a season that two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum faltered.