McDonnell: Zito and Lincecum’s journey to redemption could end in Detroit

From SABR member Wayne McDonnell Jr. at on October 26, 2012:

As the first game of the 108th World Series is officially in the books, Major League Baseball must be elated to have a Fall Classic that features two historic franchises that have won a combined 33 pennants (including 1904) and 10 world championships. As the Giants and Tigers meet for the first time in the World Series, you can’t help but believe that both ball clubs will provide fans with a competitive and spirited week of baseball. As with every World Series, there are endless arrays of story lines and highly anticipated match ups that will captivate everyone’s attention. However, the pitching heroes of Game One have already embarked upon a journey towards redemption and reconciliation.

In the minds of many, there is only one story that will dominate the World Series and it involves pitching. Justin Verlander is fully aware that an outstanding performance in this year’s Fall Classic can catapult him into the pitching stratosphere that would align him next to the likes of Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan and Bob Gibson in terms of elite right handed power pitchers. In a career destined for Cooperstown, Verlander must strategically use the World Series as a platform for all to witness his extraordinary talent. However, his lackluster performance in Game One left a look of disbelief on the face of the Detroit Tigers ace.


As the euphoric fans in a sea of orange emphatically cheered as Pablo Sandoval joined the likes of Albert Pujols, Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth as the only men to hit three home runs in a World Series game, the pitching duo of Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum baffled the surprisingly inept offense of the Tigers. Throughout his 5 2/3 innings on the mound, Zito consistently changed the eye level of the hitters by mixing in a fastball that comfortably rested in the low 80’s with curve balls that snapped perfectly in a “12 to 6” motion.

As Zito handed the ball to Lincecum with two outs in the top of the sixth inning, the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner showed glimpses of brilliance and why he has affectionately earned the nickname, “The Freak.” Pitching exclusively from the stretch, Lincecum faced seven batters and struck out five on 32 pitches. At the end of the game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy sung Lincecum’s praises by calling him a “good teammate” and someone who has wholeheartedly subscribed to the “all in” mentality even though he has had his fair share of struggles this season. Lincecum will not be available in Game Two, but will resume his role out of the bullpen when the World Series shifts to Detroit for Game Three.

While Verlander has garnered most of the headlines to date, Zito and Lincecum offer a far more compelling story of resiliency.

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Originally published: October 26, 2012. Last Updated: October 26, 2012.