The time has finally come for the baseball season to wind down and what better way to do so than with a World Series match-up that features two very contrasting teams with recent postseason success: the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers (8pm ET Thursday).
San Francisco’s road to the World Series, their second in the last three years, was anything but easy. The journey began at the start of the season when not many believed they had the offense to get it done. Pitching was expected to be as solid as it was before but as the season progressed, the Giants had to deal with former ace Tim Lincecum struggling mightily.
To that extent however, the Giants still managed to finish the first half of the season 46-40 and maintained a close enough lead to then NL West leading LA Dodgers. Also worth note was that the Giants sent a handful of players to start the All-Star with three in particular: C Buster Posey, OF Melky Cabrera and SP Matt Cain, playing integral roles in the National League winning the game and in turn winning the Giants home field in the playoffs.
Without Lincecum starting in the postseason, the Giants were down an ace and faced with the tough task of playing the Cincinnati Reds, who quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the NLDS.
Three times faced with an elimination game, the Giants kept their World Series hopes alive by winning all three games including a crucial overtime victory in game three. For a team that didn’t have much of an offense in the regular season, the Giants manufactured 16 runs in their final three games of the NLDS while the Reds had just eight.
For the Giants, the momentum was cooled almost immediately as they faced what many considered the team of destiny in the St. Louis Cardinals. The Giants took one of two at home before going to St. Louis and finding themselves down three games to one. Again faced with three elimination games, the Giants won all of them, doing so in absolute dominant fashion. They shut out the Cardinals twice in the final three games of the series and outscored them 20-1 behind their playoff threesome of Cain, Vogelsong and Zito.
For the Tigers however, their road to the postseason and subsequently to the World Series, was written with a bit of a kinder hand. Although the team, bolstered with new talent in the offseason, was only two games under .500 at the end of the first half of the season, Detroit came roaring back to finish atop the AL Central with a record of 88-74. Ironically enough, while the Giants’ Cain was the winning pitcher of record from the All-Star Game, the Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander was the loser, something that could play into the outcome of this final series.
To begin the postseason, the Tigers were dealt the unenviable draw of facing the hotter than hot Oakland Athletics who stunned the baseball world in the final month of the season as they overcame an 11 game deficit to take the AL West from the Texas Rangers. The series went five games and was tied at two a piece going into the pivotal elimination match in which the Tigers ultimately walked away victorious.
The next series, although penned to be a full out duel, turned into an annihilation. With Derek Jeter injured and most of their line-up experiencing postseason struggles like never before, the Tigers swept the NY Yankees and booked their trip to the World Series, which they last won in 2006.
Key Position Match Ups
1B- (DET) Prince Fielder vs. (SF) Brandon Belt
On the season, Fielder without question outdid Belt in every offensive category. He outhit him by .38 points, blasted 23 more home runs and nearly doubled him in RBI. Fielder also led the majors in intentional walks and had an outstanding OPS of .940.
Expected to start game two for the Tigers is Doug Fister and likely to go for the Giants is Madison Bumgarner. Against Bumgarner, Fielder has made the most of his seven at-bats hitting .429 with an RBI. Belt meanwhile has never seen Fister but he is hitting .290 against righties this season and could have some success against the Tigers’ righty.
2B- (DET) Omar Infante vs. (SF) Marco Scutaro
Scutaro, like Fielder, was head and shoulders above his opponent, Tigers 2B Omar Infante. On the season, the Giants’ second baseman outhit Infante by .32 and produced 19 more runs than he did. Infante did however outslug Scutaro in the home run department.
Scutaro has the distinction of being the only Giants’ player to have faced Fister in his career and the numbers aren’t good. In 11 at-bats, he is hitting just .091 with two RBI. Infante however has had better success against Bumgarner, albeit in a small sample. Over the last five years, Infante has had three at-bats off of the lefty and is hitting .333.
Scutaro has been hot lately and coming off an NLCS MVP performance.
3B- (DET) Miguel Cabrera vs. (SF) Pablo Sandoval
Considering the Tigers’ third baseman was the first hitter to win the Triple Crown in 45 years with his 2012 numbers, it is safe to say he has the advantage. By just how much? Cabrera outhit Sandoval by .47 points, crushed 32 more home runs and batted in over double the amount of runners. In the 2012 postseason however, Sandoval has the edge outhitting Cabrera .320 to .278.
Still, if the game is on the line, Cabrera is the guy the Tigers want to get to the plate.
C- (DET) Alex Avila vs. (SF) Buster Posey
When comparing Posey and Avila, you are talking about comparing night and day in terms of stat lines. Posey dominated his opposite in every offensive category including outhitting him by nearly .100 batting average points, smashing 13 more home runs and more than doubling him in RBI. Posey also has the edge when it comes to calling games and behind the plate defense.
San Francisco Giants v Detroit Tigers Picks
The winner of game two could likely be decided by the outcome of game one. The Tigers are favored because of the extra rest and the ability to align their pitching rotation, but the Giants are the ones that staved off elimination, looking every bit the team they were when they won the World Series in 2010.
- For this reason, take the Giants to win game two at home @ +114 on the moneyline with BetOnline Sportsbook. Non-USA residents should bet with Bet365 @ odds of 23/20.