Tonight we will see Game One of the Detroit Tigers vs the San Francisco Giants facing each other in the 2012 Major League Baseball World Series. What? Can that be right? No New York Yankees? No Washington Nationals? No Atlanta Braves? Or even St. Louis Cardinals? What is happening in our baseball world? It’s crazy, I’m telling you.
But it is what it is. So, tonight we have Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander (17-8 reg season, 3-0 playoffs) going against Giants’ Barry Zito (15-8 reg season, 1-0 playoffs).
After cruising through the embarrassment that was this post season’s New York Yankees (we won’t rehash that here), conventional wisdom has the Tigers winning this year’s Fall Classic pretty handily. Just looking at Game One, they have Verlander, who has 23 scoreless innings so far this Post-Season, ALCS MVP Delmon Young (yeah, Delmon Young, who would have EVER guessed that), who became the first person in MLB history to hit four game winning RBIs in one Post-Season series, and Miguel Cabrera, who became the first person since 1967 (Red Sox’ Carl Yazstremski) to win the Triple Crown). Yeah, they are formidable.
The Giants, on the other hand, are a band of good, scrappy players. They are not the team that went to the World Series against the Texas Rangers two years ago. They lost the best hitter in baseball, Melky Cabrera, to a 50-game PED suspension, they lost their number one closer, Brian Wilson, to injury early in the season, and they’re former ace has the highest ERA of any of their starters this post-season. Yet, they fought their way past the Cincinnati Reds, and scratched and clawed their way past the Cardinals, winning the final three games in what wound up being an epic 7-game NLCS. They became only the second team in Major League history, joining the 1985 Kansas City Royals, to win six straight Post-Season elimination games. That is the very embodiment of “scrappy”.
Tonight marks only the fourth time in Major League history that 2 Cy Young Winners face each other in Game One of a World Series. The Giants were involved the last time it happened too, in 2010 when Cliff Lee faced Tim Lincicum. For this series, although a starter all season, manager Bruce Bochy has put Lincicum in the bullpen as the Giants’ long reliever. Of course he has the option of starting him any time. Nice option to have.
While Detroit has the sweep over the Yankees, they also have nearly a week off, and rust is never a good thing. Plus, Zito has momentum on his side. In his last game against the Cardinals, he pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings with 6 strikeouts and 1 walk. But even with all that, there is not getting around the fact that Detroit is just the better team with Verlander on the mound.
Prediction for Game One: Detroit Tigers