Published October 23, 2012
A look at the best-of-seven World Series between the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants:
Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Wednesday, at San Francisco (8:07 p.m.); Game 2, Thursday, at San Francisco (8:07 p.m.); Game 3, Saturday, Oct. 27, at Detroit (8:07 p.m.); Game 4, Sunday, Oct. 28, at Detroit (8:15 p.m.); x-Game 5, Monday, Oct. 29, at Detroit (8:07 p.m.); x-Game 6, Wednesday, Oct. 31, at San Francisco (8:07 p.m.); x-Game 7, Thursday, Nov. 1, at San Francisco (8:07 p.m.). (All games on FOX).
Season Series: Did not play.
Tigers: CF Austin Jackson (.300, 16 HRs, 66 RBIs, 10 triples), RF Andy Dirks (.322, 8, 35) or Quintin Berry (.258, 2, 29, 21/21 SBs), 3B Miguel Cabrera (.330, 44, 139 for baseball's first Triple Crown since 1967), 1B Prince Fielder (.313, 30, 108), LF Delmon Young (.267, 18, 74), SS Jhonny Peralta (.239, 13, 63), C Alex Avila (.243, 9, 48), 2B Omar Infante (.274, 12, 53 with Marlins and Tigers).
Giants: CF Angel Pagan (.288, 8, 56, 29 SBs, 15 3Bs), 2B Marco Scutaro (.306, 7, 74 for Rockies and Giants), 3B Pablo Sandoval (.283, 12, 63), C Buster Posey (.336, 24, 103, 39 2Bs), RF Hunter Pence (.253, 24, 104 for Giants and Phillies), 1B Brandon Belt (.275, 7, 56), LF Gregor Blanco (.244, 5, 34, 26 SBs), SS Brandon Crawford (.248, 4, 45).
Tigers: RH Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64 ERA, MLB-leading 239 Ks), RH Doug Fister (10-10, 3.45), RH Anibal Sanchez (9-13, 3.86 with Marlins and Tigers), RH Max Scherzer (16-7, 3.74, 231 Ks).
Giants: LH Barry Zito (15-8, 4.15, 184 1-3 IP; won final 5 starts and 7 straight decisions), RH Tim Lincecum (10-15, 5.18, 186 IP, 190 Ks, matched career high with 17 wild pitches) or LH Madison Bumgarner (16-11, 3.37, 191 Ks), RH Matt Cain (16-5, 2.79, 193 Ks, 219 1-3 IP, first perfect game in franchise history June 13 vs. Astros), RH Ryan Vogelsong (14-9, 3.37 in 31 starts).
Tigers: RH Jose Valverde (3-4, 3.78, 35/40 saves), LH Phil Coke (2-3, 4.00), RH Joaquin Benoit (5-3, 3.68, 84 Ks, 71 IP), RH Octavio Dotel (5-3, 3.57), RH Al Alburquerque (0-0, 0.68 in 8 games following elbow surgery), LH Drew Smyly (4-3, 3.99 in 23 games, 18 starts), RH Rick Porcello (10-12, 4.59 in 31 starts).
Giants: RH Sergio Romo (4-2, 1.79, 14/15 saves, .185 BA against), LH Javier Lopez (3-0, 2.50, 7 saves, .191 BA vs. LH), RH Santiago Casilla (7-6, 2.84, 25/31 saves), LH Jeremy Affeldt (1-2, 2.70, 3 saves), LH Jose Mijares (3-2, 2.56 in 78 games with Royals and Giants), RH George Kontos (2-1, 2.47), RH Guillermo Mota (0-1, 5.23).
These storied teams have never squared off in a World Series before. ... San Francisco is trying to win its second championship in three seasons following a drought that dated to 1954 — four years before the franchise moved west from New York. ... Detroit manager Jim Leyland is looking to join Tony La Russa and former Tigers skipper Sparky Anderson as the only managers to win a World Series in both leagues. ... Detroit seeks its fifth title and first since 1984. The last time the Tigers won the pennant in 2006, they beat the same teams in the AL playoffs as this year: Oakland and New York, albeit in reverse order. ... With no designated hitter in the National League park, the Tigers will have to compromise an already suspect defense to get Young's hot bat in the lineup. MVP of the ALCS sweep against the Yankees, Young holds the franchise record with seven postseason homers — all in the past two years. He ranks second in RBIs (14) and became the first player with four game-winning RBIs in one postseason series. When the World Series shifts to Comerica Park for Game 3, the Tigers can start both Berry and Dirks in the outfield, upgrading their defense, and still have Young in his usual DH spot. ... The Giants have home-field advantage in the World Series because the NL won the All-Star game in Kansas City. Cain and Verlander were the starting pitchers. Cain tossed two scoreless innings for the win, while Verlander was roughed up in a five-run first and took the loss. He gave up a bases-loaded triple to Sandoval. Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera was the All-Star game MVP, before he was suspended for a positive testosterone test. ... Giants rookie Hector Sanchez might catch, with Posey moving to DH (in Detroit) or first base, when Zito or Lincecum starts. ... Scutaro, the NLCS MVP, tied an LCS record with 14 hits against the Cardinals. ... The Giants won two of three at Detroit during an interleague series in July 2011. Sandoval and Crawford homered off an ineffective Scherzer to back Zito in a 15-3 victory, one day before the Tigers fired pitching coach Rick Knapp. Bumgarner allowed a run over 7 1-3 outstanding innings in a no-decision. He struck out nine and walked one. ... San Francisco has three left-handed relievers to use against Fielder — plus Bumgarner, if he's in the bullpen. So the Giants should be able to dictate that matchup in the late innings. In two postseasons with the Giants, Lopez has held left-handed hitters to 1 for 20 with 9 strikeouts and no walks. The only hit was a double by Philadelphia slugger Ryan Howard in Game 4 of the 2010 NLCS. Fielder, however, is familiar with several Giants pitchers from his National League days in Milwaukee. He is 3 for 18 (.167) with a homer and five RBIs against Zito, but has enjoyed some success against San Francisco's other lefties. The big bopper is 3 for 7 (.429) against Bumgarner, 4 for 12 (.333) with two homers and four RBIs vs. Affeldt, and 2 for 9 (.222) with a home run off Lopez. ... Affeldt has thrown 8 1-3 scoreless innings this postseason.
Tigers: It wasn't as easy as many expected, but Detroit (88-74) wrested the AL Central title from the fading Chicago White Sox and beat Oakland in the division series to reach the ALCS for the second year in a row. Riding a dominant display of pitching, the surging Tigers then handed the Yankees their first postseason sweep in 32 years and became the first team to beat New York in three consecutive postseason series. Detroit allowed only six runs during the ALCS and held the Yankees scoreless in all but three of 39 innings to claim its 11th pennant. Tigers starters went 4-1 with a 1.02 ERA during the AL playoffs. ... Detroit is in the postseason in consecutive years for the first time since 1934-35. ... Cabrera's charge to the Triple Crown began in earnest on Aug. 1. He hit .344 with 19 homers and 54 RBIs in 57 games for the rest of the regular season. ... Verlander threw a career-high six complete games and is in contention for a second straight Cy Young Award. His four-hit shutout finished the Athletics in a winner-take-all Game 5 and he was 3-0 with a 0.74 ERA in three playoff starts, striking out 25 in 24 1-3 innings. ... Scherzer was slowed by a shoulder problem in late September, but he went 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA and 18 strikeouts over 11 innings in two playoff starts. ... The Tigers grounded into a major league-leading 156 double plays. They stole 59 bases, the second-fewest in the majors. ... Leyland, in the final year of his contract, is making his seventh postseason appearance and third trip to the World Series. He won it all with the 1997 Florida Marlins. ... The Tigers signed Fielder last winter after slugger Victor Martinez's season-ending knee injury. ... After going all of 2011 without blowing a save, Valverde was a more pedestrian 35 for 40 this season. Then he struggled badly in the AL playoffs, blowing a pair of ninth-inning leads. Coke was called on for two saves against the Yankees and he closed out a blowout in the series finale, too. ... Benoit's 3.68 ERA was his highest since 2008. He a llowed 14 homers, his most since he became exclusively a reliever. ... The Tigers had four regulars with an OPS of at least .856 in the regular season — Cabrera, Fielder, Dirks and Jackson. Then it was a substantial drop to Avila at .736. ... Backup catcher Gerald Laird provided a lift by hitting .282 in 63 games. ... Detroit finished sixth in the AL in runs. The Tigers were 10th in homers — with Cabrera and Fielder accounting for more than 45 percent of the team's total of 163.
Giants: After pulling away from the rival Dodgers to win the NL West, the Giants (94-68) dropped their first two playoff games at home to Cincinnati. But they were far from done. San Francisco became the ninth team to overcome a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five postseason series and the first to do it by winning the final three games on the road. Then the Giants fell behind defending champion St. Louis 3-1 in the NLCS, only to rally for three consecutive lopsided wins and their second pennant in three years. They are 6-0 in elimination games this postseason. ... Posey, who missed most of last season after serious leg and ankle injuries from a frightening collision at home plate with the Marlins' Scott Cousins on May 25, returned every bit the player he was during his 2010 NL Rookie of the Year campaign. He won the NL batting title and is a top contender for MVP. He made a big impact against the Reds when he hit two homers, including a grand slam in the decisive Game 5 win. ... Manager Bruce Bochy's team rode pitching to the World Series title in 2010 but the lineup this year is much more dangerous, especially on the road. The Giants were the second-highest scoring team on the road in the regular season, averaging 5.1 runs per game. ... San Francisco became the first team since the 1987 Cardinals to make the playoffs with the fewest homers in the majors, hitting just 103. ... In April, the Giants lost All-Star closer and 2010 major league saves leader Brian Wilson to injury. In August, Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games for a positive testosterone test. Cabrera (.346) was reinstated by Major League Baseball during the playoffs, but the Giants had already said they had no plans to put him on the postseason roster. ... Just as he did two years ago during that World Series championship run, GM Brian Sabean brought in key pieces to fill key needs: Scutaro at second and Pence in right field. They're not quite the castoffs and misfits of 2010 — Cody Ross, Pat Burrell — but more a team that overcame the absence of s witch-hitting Sandoval because of two DL stints and moved forward seemingly unfazed when Cabrera got suspended. ... Sandoval has an RBI in five straight games, matching the longest streak in Giants postseason history (Barry Bonds, 2002). Kung Fu Panda was a productive hitter during the NL playoffs, making up for his October flop in 2010. He appeared in only six postseason games that year, one in the World Series, while batting .176 (3 for 17) with two RBIs and three strikeouts.
— Odd Man Out. A major strength for the Giants is the depth in their rotation. All five members made at least one start during the NL playoffs, but Bumgarner or Lincecum will likely be sent to the bullpen for the World Series. Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, pitched well in relief during the playoffs after a subpar season, then was shaky in his NLCS start. Bumgarner has struggled badly in October after a strong regular season. Picking the right guy to start against Detroit could make a big difference, and Bochy's choice will probably be scrutinized.
— Closing Time. Valverde blew a four-run lead in the ALCS opener and did not pitch again in the series. Benoit also has been a lot shakier than a year ago, and that's a concern for the Tigers. Does Valverde return to his closer role, or will Leyland keep turning to Coke in save situations? Normally a left-handed specialist, he had one save during the regular season and then two in the AL playoffs while racking up 7 1-3 scoreless innings. Even with a reliable bullpen, closing out World Series games is no simple chore.
— Triples Town. The Giants hit only 31 homers at their waterfront ballpark this year — six fewer than Barry Bonds had by himself during his record-setting 2001 season. They made up for the lack of long balls with a major league-leading 57 triples, including 29 at home with all that space in right-center field.