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World Series Game 1 Preview

In Baseball on October 24, 2012 at 7:03 pm

The World Series begins tonight. Crim Del Harris previews the Game 1 match-up of Detroit’s Justin Verlander against San Francisco’s Barry Zito.

Ty Cobb never faced Christy Mathewson. Carl Hubbell never threw a single pitch to Hank Greenberg. Mel Ott never stared down Hal Newhouser from the batter’s box. Maybe they did during a pick-up game on the Field of Dreams, but not at Tiger Stadium and not at the Polo Grounds. When it comes to the Tigers and the Giants, they have been two baseball teams passing in the night.

In more than a century of playing baseball, the Tigers and the Giants have never faced each other in the World Series. That’s remarkable when you consider how long the teams have existed, and how good they’ve been historically. The Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants have been playing baseball since 1901.[1] Together, they have played 112 seasons, claimed 33 pennants and won 10 World Series Championships.[2] But no scorecard, no box score and no record book has recorded a Giants-Tigers World Series. Until now.

The 2012 World Series begins tonight at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The Giants are coming off a dramatic National League Championship Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. San Francisco won three-straight elimination games in the NLCS to knock off the defending-champion St. Louis Cardinals to claim their second pennant in three years. They’ll face the Tigers, who have been waiting for nearly a week after their dominating four-game sweep of the New York Yankees.

It looks like this year’s Fall Classic could come down to talent versus momentum. The Tigers boast a fearsome lineup, anchored by first baseman Prince Fielder, center fielder Austin Jackson and Triple Crown-winning third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Detroit can rake, and AT&T Park’s short right field fence could be a boon for the left-handed hitting Fielder. Detroit also has one of the best starting rotations in baseball, led by Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award-winner Justin Verlander. Max Scherzer and Doug Fister will round out the Tigers’ World Series rotation, making it three fireballers in a row for Giants hitters to face. Detroit won only 88 games during the regular season, but their hitting and pitching talent could carry them to four more victories.

San Francisco may not have a star-studded lineup like the Tigers’, but it seems to be working thus far for the Giants. NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball this postseason, recording 14 hits and an OPS of 1.140 against the Cardinals. San Francisco has also benefitted from the timely renaissance of Barry Zito. After six disappointing seasons on the other side of the Bay, Zito returned to his Cy Young-form in Game 5 of the NLCS, tying up St. Louis hitters with his trademark curveball. Combined with Ryan Vogelsong’s emergence as a top starter and Matt Cain being Matt Cain, the Giants have a deceptively good rotation. If they’re on their game, the Giants are tough to beat.

Detroit will send Verlander to the mound tonight, while San Francisco hopes that Zito brings his Oakland-era stuff to AT&T Park. While each team has strengths and weaknesses, the Tigers should be favored to win tonight. Their lineup is too dangerous, Verlander is too good and Zito is too much of a variable. Sorry, Giants fans. Detroit’s got this one.

[1] The New York Gothams entered the National League in 1883.

[2] Detroit actually has the strange honor of facing the Chicago Cubs in Chicago’s first World Series championship in 1908 and their last World Series Appearance in 1945.


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