SAN FRANCISCO It was a phone call that Giants managerBruce Bochy couldnt have been prouder to make: He was going to tell Barry Zitothat the honor would be his to start Game 1 of the World Series.
There was just one problem.
Zito left his cell phone at the ballpark.
Thats why I was holding off announcing it, Bochy said onTuesday. But I think we all knew that Barry was starting, and I think he had agood idea. He was ecstatic. He was proud, honored that we have the trust in himto start Game 1.
Bochy didnt leave any mystery with the rest of hisrotation, either. Madison Bumgarner will start Game 2 on Thursday at AT&TPark, with Ryan Vogelsong going in Game 3 at Detroits Comerica Park and MattCain taking the ball in Game 4.
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Tim Lincecum will work out of the bullpen, where he madesuch a huge impact in the NL Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Said Lincecum: Weve been doing it this way so far, so whychange it? Im just excited to see another packed house. Im sure our fans aretasting it already.
Bochy could have selected Lincecum to start Game 2. But hesaid Bumgarner, who has gotten tagged ever since late August and got bouncedfrom the NLCS rotation, made progress in two side sessions. And Lincecum wouldbe much more versatile and valuable in a relief role than Bumgarner, who has noexperience pitching out of the bullpen.
Madison has had a break, which we wanted to give him,Bochy said. Its allowed him to get some bullpens in, work on some things. Asfar as Timmy, we just think hes better served for this club at this pointhelping us out of the bullpen. He gives us another weapon there. Hesresilient. I can use him back-to-back days. I can use him three or fourinnings, if necessary. If something happens, I can start him. So we thinkthats the best way to go right now.
Bochy had no qualms with going lefty-lefty, righty-righty.It comes down to executing pitches, no matter what side it comes from. Zito andBumgarner have differing styles, too.
Here was the most important factor in the decision to startBumgarner in Gmae 2 against Tigers right-hander Doug Fister, though: Bochy andpitching coach Dave Righetti had to be convinced that the 23-year-old foundsomething authentic in his mechanics that would keep him from throwinghittable, flat pitches over the plate.
Bumgarner looked at video with Righetti and realized that hewas over-rotating.
And that was causing a lot of other problems, Bumgarnersaid. Ive always been a guy who closes off some, but it was too much.Throwing that way causes a lot more stress and causes me to tire out a littlefaster.
About his session on Saturday, Bumgarner said, I think wevegot things straightened out. I do feel better. The stuff feels better. Thebreaking ball feels sharper. But the only way to be sure is to get into gamespeed.
If game speed is too much, the Timmy Tourniquet will bethere for Bochy assuming Lincecum isnt needed for multiple innings behindZito in Wednesday nights opener against Justin Verlander.
There was one more interesting wrinkle in Bochys rotation:He could have flip-flopped his Nos. 3-4 starters, giving Cain the ball in Game3 to line him up for a potential Game 7. Cain already owns victories in theGiants two winner-take-all games this postseason, after all.
But it wasnt lost on Giants coaches that Cains fastballrode up in the zone and he relied heavily on his defense while throwing 5 23shutout innings against the Cardinals in Game 7 on Monday. Vogelsongs stuff,by comparison, has been filthy in all three of his postseason starts.
So Cain will only make one start in this series. But he'll also get an extra day of rest before taking the ball in Game 4 againstright-hander Max Scherzer. And Vogelsong will drawright-hander Anibal Sanchez, who has mystified the Giants over his career especially at AT&T Park, where he is 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA in three careerstarts.
If Vogelsong gets the last start, we have no problem withthat, Bochy said. I know Matt has worked hard, hes got a lot of innings. Ididnt think we needed to flip-flop the two, to be honest, the way Vogey isthrowing.
But Game 7 is an eon away. Its all about Zito and Verlanderin Game 1 and yes, Bochy finally got word to his veteran left-hander that hedbe pitching.
I couldnt be happier for him, Bochy said. It says a lotabout his mental toughness, his makeup. For him to keep grinding and trying toget better, I was really proud to tell him, Im glad to hand you the ball onthe first game, with all hes been through and the way hes handled it. Itsbeen off the charts.
Two years ago, Bochy left Zito off all three playoffrosters. This year, he told another Cy Young Award winner, Lincecum, that hewouldnt be in the rotation.
Oh, without question, its one of the most difficult thingsyou have to do as a manager, said Bochy, particularly when youre talking to astar player, a guy whos won a Cy Young Award and wants to be out there and whosbeen there all year for you.
I think the only way you handle it is to be straightforwardwith him and tell him what youre thinking, whether its a veteran or a youngplayer. It still bothers you a little bit because you know how much heshurting and maybe even embarrassed.
You do think about his feelings. Its something that has tobe done, and you move on. But again, how theyve dealt with it was one of themore impressive things Ive seen from a veteran player.
Said Zito: Hes always handled me very professional, alwayscommunicated, and sometimes the truth was not what I wanted to hear. But it wasthe truth, and other times hes said things that felt good to me. Hes alwaysbeen a great guy personally and a great manager from a players perspective.
It was Zitos heroic Game 5 start at Busch Stadium that keptthe Giants alive and brought the NLCS back to San Francisco. After thatinspiring outing, his teammates have every confidence hell bring the samestuff and poise to the mound against a power-packed Tigers lineup.
Its just complete retribution, Lincecum said. Im reallyclose to him and I know hes helped me through what Ive gone through. Hes soselfless. Hes always going about his work, trying to be better no matter thesituation. This has been a big week for him and its been fun to watch. I lookup to him like hes a big brother. It was pretty emotional for me to watch himpitch in St. Louis. Im just really, really proud of him.
Zito played on five playoff teams in Oakland but this is hisfirst time on a World Series roster.
I feel like Ive grown up in this game, you know? Zitosaid. When I came up in Oakland, I felt like I was a boy in this game. Youhave talent and you just keep going to the next level and all of the suddenpeople are looking at you and theres fans chanting your name and stuff, andyou dont know why. And then, to mature in this game is a big deal.
That process is a huge part of becoming a free agent, goingto a new team, signing a big deal and dealing with everything that comes withthat.
So I feel like an adult in the game now.