THREE REASONS THE TIGERS CAN WIN
The Tigers’ rotation had a cumulative earned-run average of 1.02 in the American League Championship Series, and they have fewer issues than the Giants, who have uncertainties surrounding Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito. The six days between the ALCS and World Series should particularly benefit Max Scherzer, who is scheduled to start Game 4, and who has been nursing a sore shoulder.
The luck of the draw
Thanks to the Giants and Cardinals going seven games in the National League Championship Series, the Tigers will miss the Giants’ two most effective starters in the postseason, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong, until the Series returns to Detroit. With slop-tossing Zito throwing in Game 1 for the Giants, the Tigers’ biggest concern will be guarding against oblique injuries to their revved-up hitters.
Mike Ilitch, the team’s 83-year-old owner, has made it clear that a World Series ring is the thing he needs to make his life as one of North America’s premier sportsmen complete. He is a popular guy in the clubhouse because he has backed ambition with payroll, and there will be a great deal of people around the game pulling for the Tigers. Plus, no downtown core could use a celebration as much as Detroit.
THREE REASONS THE GIANTS CAN WIN
They are tested
The Giants won the World Series two years ago and are 6-0 when facing an elimination game this postseason, tying the major-league record held by the 1985 Kansas City Royals. Their pitching allowed nine runs in those games. Much of the core is back from the group that beat the Texas Rangers in five games.
Marco Scutaro’s a terrific guy and a nice player, but third baseman Pablo Sandoval, a.k.a The Kung Fu Panda, also heated up in the final five games of the NLCS, and is 16-for-50 (.320) with four doubles and three home runs this postseason, tying a club record with RBIs in five consecutive games. That’s timely production, since the No. 4 and No. 5 hitters, Buster Posey and Hunter Pence, have been inconsistent. Sandoval suffered a power outage during the regular season when he missed time with a hamate injury and a strained left hamstring, and could just be getting healthy. His manager says he’s lost weight, too.
The Giants manager has done a masterful job of handling his bullpen all season long, starting with the season-ending injury to closer Brian Wilson. He is aggressive, and unlike Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who is managing his way around Jose Valverde, a closer fighting mechanical issues, has a better sense of how the back end of his bullpen is organized. Valverde told reporters on Monday that he’d corrected his mechanical flaw, a lazy leg-lift. We’ll see.
PREDICTION: Tigers in six games.