The 2012 Major League Baseball postseason has been filled with excitement over the course of the early rounds. For the first time, ten teams qualified for the playoffs. After several intense series, the final two teams are left standing. The Detroit Tigers outlasted the Chicago White Sox in order to win the American League Central following a September surge. The playoff-like atmosphere of September prepared Detroit for the challenge of outlasting the upstart Oakland Athletics as they were forced to play a decisive Game 5 in hostile Oakland. Despite a game one 9th inning hiccup from closer Jose Valverde, the Tigers managed to sweep the New York Yankees on their way to winning the franchise’s 11th American League Pennant. The National League battle for the pennant has been even a tighter contest. The Giants found themselves in a quick 2-0 hole in the LDS facing the low odds of winning three consecutive games in Cincinnati. San Francisco answered the call and found a way to pull off three consecutive elimination road victories. The 2nd wild card and defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals rolled into San Francisco and grabbed game one of the NLCS. The Cards went on to win three of the series’ first four games and the Giants found themselves faced with the prospects of winning three consecutive games. Once again San Francisco answered the call behind outstanding performances from Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain. The Giants stomped the Cardinals in game seven on their way to winning the franchise’s 21st National League Pennant and second in three seasons. The 108th World Series has been set and there certainly is plenty of postseason experience between the two remaining squads. The Tigers enter the World Series rested with a rotation in order, the Giants arrive battled-tested after winning six elimination games over the previous two series. If the postseason to this point has been any indication as to what we can expect going forward, I’d say we are in a very competitive and exciting World Series.
Detroit Tigers vs. San Francisco Giants
Game One – Wednesday, October 24 – Detroit at San Francisco, 8:07 p.m.
Game Two – Thursday, October 25 – Detroit at San Francisco, 8:07 p.m.
Game Three – Saturday, October 27 – San Francisco at Detroit, 8:15 p.m.
Game Four – Sunday, October 28 – San Francisco at Detroit, 8:07 p.m.
*Game Five – Monday, October 29 – San Francisco at Detroit, 8:07 p.m.
*Game Six – Wednesday, October 31 – Detroit at San Francisco, 8:07 p.m.
*Game Seven – Thursday, November 1 – Detroit at San Francisco, 8:07 p.m.
* If Necessary
Sports with Balls Picks:
Mike Orzechowski (0-2 WC, 1-3 LDS, 0-2 LCS)
The Tigers are a large favorite in Vegas to win the World Series and for good reason. The rotation is led by baseball’s best starting pitcher in Justin Verlander and the lineup is led by the league’s first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, Miguel Cabrera. That being said the Giants are on a special run this postseason winning six consecutive elimination games. The Giants certainly compete in rotation talent and have a slight edge with the bullpen. The Giants will need Buster Posey to find his stroke which went missing in the NLCS. The Tigers have a strong rotation, which has been set, but also face a 6 day layoff which often hurts. The Giants are battle tested, the Tigers are rested. As usual in playoff baseball, it will come down to who can get the timely hit in the big situation. Giants in 7
Scott Boutcher (0-2 WC, 3-1 LDS, 2-0 LCS)
Thanks to Melky Cabrera the Giants will have home field advantage in the fall classic. The prize for the Giants winning a grueling 7 game series is they get to see Justin Verlander in game one. Bruce Bochy’s rotation is in shambles and wont get to start their ace Matt Cain until game 3. The Tigers have the more consistent offense with the triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera. San Francisco’s offense has the potential to light up the scoreboard, but they also to go into major slumps. The Giants have the better bullpen as Sergio Romo has taken the closer role and run with it. The only concern for the Tigers is the long lay off, as they have not played in a game setting in 5 days. Both teams have been on incredible journeys, but the inconsistent hitting of the Giants against the solid Tiger starting staff will lead to a Detroit win. Tigers in 6
Warren Croxton (0-2 WC, 0-4 LDS, 1-1 LCS)
Barry Zito is pitching like a CY Young award winner, Hunter Pence is coming up with big hits. Marco Scutaro is the best hitter in the playoffs. It’s bizzaro world in San Francisco. The wonderful ride they’re on will end in this series. Fielder and Cabrera finally show their power that has been lacking in the playoffs, while Austin Jackson continues to be the table setter at the top of the order. Justin Verlander wins the World Series MVP, pitching two gems. Tigers in 5
Bill Fucich (2-0 WC, 2-2 LDS, 1-1 LCS)
Giants come in as destiny’s child after winning 6 straight elimination games through the first two rounds of the postseason. The Tigers took an easier road, at least in the LCS, which allows Verlander to pitch 2 maybe 3 times. That is a scary premise and one that when combined with the Tigers deeper lineup sides my pick with the Motor City. Tigers in 6
Matt Sherman (0-2 WC, 1-3 LDS, 1-1 LCS)
The Giants have already lost two games in this World Series – that’s how it feels anyway, with the prospect of facing Justin Verlander twice in the first five games. That’s how good Verlander has been this postseason, and it’s hard to imagine a long layoff or pitching in an unfamiliar ballpark will adversely affect him. What’s also scary for San Francisco is that the Tigers haven’t gotten much out of MVP-to be Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder yet, and you’ve got to figure they’ll bust out at some point. On the bright side, there is something to be said about playoff magic, and the Giants can keep the momentum alive with just one day off and staying at home after winning the NLCS at AT&T Park on Monday. If Verlander was the only bright spot in Detroit’s rotation, the Giants would have a shot, but the whole rotation has been lights out for the Tigers. Home field and World Series pedigree will keep the Giants in the series, but too much Verlander and Cabrera give the Tigers the 2012 crown. Tigers in 6
Michael Bedard (0-2 WC, 4-0 LDS, 1-1 LCS)
While one team got in the seemingly easy way and the other the difficult the playing field is level again. For Detroit the memory of Jose Valverde melting down hasn’t faded and for good reason. Valverde quietly struggled throughout the season and at this point Jim Leyland will have to decide between Valverde and a combination of Coke, Benoit, Dotel, and Albuquerque. The Tigers have a distinct advantage in being able to set up their staff just as they want it. The performances they’ve gotten out of Verlander, Fister, Sanchez, and Scherzer make taking 4 games a difficult proposition but the San Francisco baseball Giants have a crafty staff of their own that isn’t as explosive but remains very steady. They’ve been hitting the ball well compared to the Yankees who looked utterly lost at the plate. Marco Scutaro looks like a legitimate ballplayer and Pablo Sandoval has provided pop and average. In the end I’m giving the Tigers an edge and saying Detroit in 6. The staff is too much and the Giants pitching has the potential to get lit up once or twice by the Tigers middle lineup combo of Cabrera and Fielder. All the marbles just landed on the table and two very different cities now go to bat. Tigers in 6
Glenn Coyle (1-1 WC, 0-4 LDS, 1-1 LCS)
It’s been said that pitching wins championships, and that has been the case for the Tigers so far this postseason. Despite a bullpen that features a closer by committee the Tigers dominated the Yankees and are in a place many expected them to be before the season started. The Giants have surprised many by fighting off elimination 6 times so far this postseason, thanks to timely hitting and effective pitching from the starters right through to the closer. This series should be a lengthy one and the Tigers will win in 6 thanks to the best pitcher in baseball right now (Verlander) and a dominant one two punch (Cabrera, Fielder) in the middle of their line-up. Tigers in 6