Finally, after 162 regular season games (per team) and 31 postseason games (all told), Major League Baseball is down to its final two.
Action begins on Wednesday (8 PM ET) as the AL Champion Detroit Tigers head to the West Coast to take on National League Champions, the San Francisco Giants.
San Francisco World Series Bound
By hook or by crook, somehow the San Francisco Giants have managed to find a way to the World Series.
Monday night’s shocking 9-0 dismissal of the St. Louis Cardinals was not only unexpected, but a statement that Bruce Bochy’s side will fight until the very end. Winners of six straight elimination games, the Giants at times looked as though they might not make the postseason, let alone play into late October. The Giants though had resolve, and the mentality to get the job done.
The victory gives the Giants a record-setting 22nd National League pennant, and a 19th trip to the World Series.
San Francisco now prepares for its first World Series since 2010’s victory over the Texas Rangers. This visit to the Fall Classic will be the team’s fifth since departing New York in 1958. It marks the first time the club has met a Detroit Tigers side after July.
A World Series win this year would be the Giants’ seventh such award.
Detroit Makes Trip to the Bay Area
Like San Francisco, during the regular season Detroit looked like it might not make the postseason. A twelfth hour surge saw the Tigers past the Chicago White Sox and into the American League side of the postseason.
Despite having the worst record of those AL teams, Detroit edged out Oakland before humiliating the New York Yankees, booking its place in the World Series last Thursday.
Detroit will play in the Fall Classic for the 11th time, and will be looking to win for the first time since 1984, a year that saw the Tigers defeat the San Diego Padres 4-1.
Life since that World Series victory has been somewhat barren. The Tigers’ only other appearance in the World Series came in 2006, when the team fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals. A victory this year would represent Detroit’s fifth World Series crown.
Head to Head
Despite both being rich in heritage, the Tigers and Giants met for the first time in 2003, more than 100 years after both clubs came into existence. The teams never met in the World Series, and it was still six years after Interleague Play was first devised (in 1997) that the two sides would meet.
The teams have met for a solitary three-game series in four seasons (2003, 2005, 2008, 2011). During that time, the Giants have taken a slender head-to-head lead (7-5). This has come on the back of a 4-2 record at AT&T Park and a 3-3 record at Comerica Park.
With head-to-head contests infrequent, it should come as no surprise that the starting rotations of both clubs are less than familiar with the opposition.
Detroit’s Justin Verlander has faced the Giants just once, recording a no decision. Doug Fister has never pitched against San Francisco, while Max Scherzer has pitched against the Giants only once in a Tigers uniform. Scherzer recorded a 1-2 record against San Francisco whilst pitching in Arizona (giving him a 1-3 career record). Anibal Sanchez is the most experienced Detroit starter when it comes to facing the Giants. He recorded a 3-1 record (with one no decision) while pitching for Florida/Miami.
All told, Detroit’s rotation is 4-4 against San Francisco, with two no decisions.
Four of San Francisco’s five-man rotation account for two games (both no decisions) against the Tigers, with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain never having pitched against Detroit. Barry Zito however is a veritable encyclopedia of experience compared to his team mates. Zito has recorded a 1-1 record while pitching for San Francisco, but went 8-5 with a no decision against the Tigers when pitching for the Oakland A’s.
Overall, San Francisco’s rotation – thanks mainly to Zito – is 9-6 with three no decisions against the Tigers.
While many oddsmakers are fine-tuning their betting lines, early odds have come out in favor of the Detroit Tigers. With the champagne barely soaking in in the San Francisco locker room, bookmakers have set the early World Series odds at 8/13 (Detroit) and 11/8 (San Francisco).