The Detroit Tigers are going to the World Series!!! This is old news by now, but it feels so good to say that. For the first time since 2006, the boys are headed to the Fall Classic. All it took was a 4 game clobbering of the New York Yankees for the Tigers to clinch the AL Pennant at home in front of their faithful. I was at Game 4 of that series, and let me tell you, the atmosphere in the Motor City is electric. Something I haven’t felt since the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2008.
Unlike the American League Championship Series, the teams over in the National League took as much time as possible deciding who deserved to represent their league in the World Series. St. Louis and San Francisco (the last 2 NL teams to reach the World Series) battled for 7 games in a series which saw the Giants come back from a 3-1 deficit to reach their 2nd Fall Classic in 3 years. So here we have it, the Tigers and Giants. Only one can be crowned champion of Major League Baseball in 2012. Here is your 2012 World Series preview:
How They Got Here:
Detroit Tigers: The Tigers finished the regular season on a tear and knocked the Chicago White Sox from 1st place in the AL Central. Detroit clinched the Central Division in the final days of the season. Their opening round opponent was the Oakland Athletics. After taking the first 2 games in Motown, Oakland came back in Games 3 & 4 to put the Tigers on the verge of elimination. Game 5 saw Justin Verlander mow down the A’s. That combined with timely hitting saw Detroit advance to their 2nd straight ALCS. In the ALCS, Detroit faced a familiar foe in the much-hated New York Yankees. The turning point in the series occurred in Game 1, when shortstop and captain Derek Jeter went down with a season-ending ankle injury. The Yankees bats were completely silent the entire series while Detroit’s powerful pitching staff took over. The Tigers went on to sweep the Yankees in 4 games, sending the Detroit to their first World Series since ’06.
San Francisco Giants: After a very successful regular season, in which they won 94 games and won the National League West by 8 games, the Giants headed to the playoffs against the resurgent Cincinnati Reds. The Reds dominated both games in San Francisco and headed home looking to sweep the Giants back to the Bay. San Francisco had other plans. They roared back on the road to stun the Reds in 5 games to advance to the NLCS. With Cincinnati behind them, the Giants turned their focus to the defending champion Cardinals. St. Louis was coming off a big comeback of their own in a Game 5 win over the Washington Nationals. The Cardinals were looking real good to return to the World Series, going up 3-1 after 4 games and looking to clinch Game 5 at home. Once again, the Giants wouldn’t go away. After Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong pitched great in Games 5 & 6, Matt Cain and the offense took care of the Cards in Game 7 to win the NL Pennant for the Giants. It is their 2nd pennant in 3 seasons, and first time they were able to clinch at home.
The Tigers Will Win If…: There is no doubt around the Motor City that the Tigers could come off rusty in Game 1. After being off for a week, hitters’ timing can be off and the pitchers aren’t in a groove. The key for Detroit will be to get out ahead in Games 1 & 2, and take advantage of Justin Verlander & Doug Fister. Jim Leyland will have to alter his lineup due to the ‘No-DH” rule in NL ballparks. Look for Delmon Young to step in in left field. Detroit will need his bat, especially with one spot in the order being taken up by the pitcher. The starting pitching will need to continue to carry the Tigers, since the bullpen is a bit shaky, mainly Jose Valverde. If the Tigers can take 1 or both games in San Francisco, they’ll be sitting pretty heading home.
The Giants Will Win If…: While the Tigers have been scrimmaging and enjoying their AL Championship, the Giants have been fighting for their lives in the NLCS. The biggest question for the Giants will be: How do they come off their 7-game series win? Will they be exhausted from the emotional stress of facing so many do-or-die games? Will they continue their hot-streak into the World Series? If the bats of Marco Scutaro and Buster Posey stay hot, this could be a much closer series than experts anticipate.
Series Schedule: (Best of 7)
Game 1: Wed. October 24th — Detroit @ San Francisco — Justin Verlander @ Barry Zito — 8pm on FOX
Game 2: Thu October 25th – Detroit @ San Francisco — Doug Fister @ Madison Bumgarner – 8pm on FOX
Game 3: Sat October 27th — San Francisco @ Detroit — Ryan Vogelsong @ Anibal Sanchez — 8pm on FOX
Game 4: Sunday October 28th — San Francisco @ Detroit — Matt Cain @ Max Scherzer — 8pm on FOX
*Game 5: Monday October 29th — San Francisco @ Detroit — TBD @ TBD — 8pm on FOX
*Game 6: Wednesday October 31st — Detroit @ San Francisco — TBD @ TBD — 8pm on FOX
*Game 7: Thursday November 1st — Detroit @ San Francisco — TBD @ TBD — 8pm on FOX
I think this series will be closer than most people think. The Tigers haven’t played in a week, and the Giants are exhausted from a grueling 7-game series in the NLCS. However, pitching gets it done this time of year, and the Tigers have a clear advantage in that department. Every game will be a close game, but I’m picking the Tigers in 5 games to win their first World Series since 1984.
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Let’s win this one for Mr. Illitch and the entire City of Detroit!! GO TIGERS!!!