Giants-Tigers Preview

Barry Zito looked sharp in his first start since missing more

than two months with a sprained right foot.

Given his interleague history since joining the San Francisco

Giants, however, the left-hander could be hard-pressed to repeat

that performance.

Manager Bruce Bochy is expected to send Zito to the mound on

just three days rest as the visiting Giants continue their

three-game set against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night.

In his first outing since April 16, Zito (1-1, 4.95 ERA) allowed

two runs and four hits over seven innings and earned the victory

during a 6-3 win at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.

“I was trying to execute and things worked out for the most

part,” said Zito, who threw 108 pitches. “Change of speeds is so

important and to be able to get a feel for all the pitches early,

that’s (a) big deal.”

Zito’s only career appearance on three days rest came during the

2003 AL division series playoff with Oakland, but he doesn’t expect

that to be an issue.

“I don’t really make a big deal out of it as far as physically,”

he told the Giants’ official website. “You’re either good to go or

you’re not. … My body certainly can handle whatever the demands

are.”

While Zito’s surely hoping to build on his most recent effort,

he can’t be happy about having to face an AL club.

Since 2007, the former AL Cy Young Award winner has gone 3-10

with a 6.69 ERA against the AL – the worst interleague mark in the

majors over that span.

Zito hasn’t faced the Tigers since yielding five runs, five hits

and four walks in just two innings of a 7-2 loss June 18, 2008. He

is 4-2 with a 1.88 ERA over seven career starts in Detroit, but

hasn’t pitched there since 2005.

Brandon Inge, mired in a 2-for-19 slump during his last seven

games, and Magglio Ordonez have both struggled against Zito, going

3 for 24 and 4 for 25, respectively.

Victor Martinez, though, is 8 for 22 lifetime versus Zito and

raised his average to a team-best .332 with Friday’s 2-for-4

effort.

“I can’t say enough about him,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s

one of the best teammates I’ve ever managed or been around.”

Hoping to bounce back from Friday’s 4-3 loss, the Tigers (44-39)

give the ball to Max Scherzer (9-3, 4.47), who looks to continue

his recent success at home. The 26-year-old has gone 5-1 with a

3.13 ERA over 10 starts in the Motor City, surrendering two or

fewer runs in eight of those outings.

Like Zito, however, Scherzer has struggled during interleague

play. He is 0-2 against the NL this season, giving up nine runs in

11 2-3 innings in road losses to Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles

Dodgers.

Scherzer has compiled a 2.60 ERA over three career outings

versus San Francisco (47-36) and is facing a sputtering offense

which has totaled seven runs in its last three games.

While the Giants have been relatively quiet at the plate of

late, Pablo Sandoval continues to provide a spark. Sandoval,

batting .314 over a career-best 12-game hitting streak, went 2 for

5 with a run scored and two driven in Friday, including a

tiebreaking RBI double in the ninth.

“I think he’s getting stronger as time goes on,” Bochy said.

“And I expect him to get even more aggressive.”