Well, I can bask in the glow of taking the San Francisco Giants to beat Tigers ace Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series, but that prediction of Detroit winning the Fall Classic in six games isn’t looking too sharp at the moment with the Motor City Kitties down 2-0.
What should really worry Tigers fans, as the series heads to Comerica Park for the next three games (maybe) starting Saturday night, is that Detroit hasn’t even seen San Francisco’s presumed two best starters yet in Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain. With Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner starting the first two games of this series and some excellent relief help, the Tigers have been held to a .167 average with a total of seven singles and three extra-base hits.
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Mr. Triple Crown Miguel Cabrera is a quiet 1-for-5 with one RBI. He’s hitting just .268 this postseason. Prince Fielder is 1-for-6 and was thrown out at the plate in the crucial play of Game 2. Fielder is down to .205 this postseason and hasn’t had an RBI the past five games or a homer the past seven.
Meanwhile, “Kung Fu Panda” Pablo Sandoval is clearly the World Series MVP right now after he became the fourth player in MLB history with three homers in a World Series game in the opener. Sandoval, who had just 12 homers during the season, was held to just a single in Game 2.
What is really hurting Tiger manager Jim Leyland is that he knows that he can’t use gas can Jose Valverde, so that has changed the dynamic of his entire bullpen. Valverde, who had 35 saves during the regular season, has given up at least two earned runs in his last three appearances. Leyland tried to restore his confidence by using Valverde in garbage time of the Game 1 loss, but he was shelled again. I highly doubt you see “Papa Grande” again unless it’s a similar no-pressure situation.
To be fair to Detroit fans, almost every break has gone the Giants’ way. There was that wacky hit off third base in Game 1 that led to a few runs. And that bunt in Game 2 that died on the third-base foul line, loaded the bases for San Francisco in the bottom of the seventh and led to the Giants’ first run. And Fielder was only thrown out because of a perfect relay throw from Marco Scutaro, and he only caught the ball because the throw from outfielder Gregor Blanco went over the head of shortstop Brandon Crawford, who was supposed to be the cut-off man.
The good news for Detroit is that it is unbeaten at home this postseason. But here’s the bad: San Francisco is on a five-game winning streak overall, outscoring the opposition 30-4, and is 4-2 on the road this postseason. Giants starting pitchers have a 0.55 ERA in that winning streak. There’s also this: Of the 52 teams to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series, 41 have gone on to win the title; 14 of the last 15 have done so.
ESPN has an interesting parallel between the first two games of this World Series and the 2010 version. Two years ago, the Giants won Game 1 over Texas in a duel of Cy Young winners, with Tim Lincecum beating Cliff Lee; this time, it was Zito over Verlander. In Game 2 of ’10, the Giants won in a shutout, 9-0. This time it was 2-0. San Francisco went on to win that series in Game 5 in the Rangers’ park.
Giants at Tigers Game 3 Probable Starting Pitchers
Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong (14-9, 3.37 ERA in regular season) vs. Tigers RHP Anibal Sanchez (9-13, 3.86): Vogelsong is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in three postseason starts – he has allowed just one earned run in all three. His Game 6 NLCS win over St. Louis was his best outing as he struck out nine Cardinals with just one walk and four hits allowed. Vogelsong has faced the Tigers once in his career, and it was in last season’s interleague series at Comerica. He allowed two earned runs in 6.2 innings in a no-decision. Thus most Tigers have barely seen him – former Marlin Omar Infante has the most at-bats with 11 and does have seven hits.
Sanchez is 1-1 with a 1.35 ERA this postseason. He could be really rusty as Sanchez hasn’t pitched since blanking the Yankees on three hits over seven innings in Game 2 of the ALCS on Oct. 14. Sanchez also came over with Infante in the trade with the Marlins, so the Giants will know Sanchez fairly well. He faced them twice during the season, going 1-1 with a 4.38 ERA. Both starts were in May – one was excellent, one was terrible. The two Giants with the best history vs. Sanchez aren’t on the postseason roster: Melky Cabrera and Freddy Sanchez. Blanco is hitting .571 in seven at-bats, while Sandoval has a single in six at-bats. Angel Pagan has six RBIs and a .261 average in 23 at-bats.
Giants at Tigers Game 3 Betting Odds and Trends
On BetOnline, Detroit is a -148 favorite with the total at 7. The Giants were 50-29-2 “over/under” on road this season and 3-3 in playoffs. Tigers were 36-42-3 O/U at home during season and 2-2 in playoffs.
The Giants are 5-0 in their last past games vs. a right-handed starter. San Francisco is 7-2 in its past nine games as a road underdog of +110 to +150. The Giants are 11-2 in Vogelsong’s past 13 starts after allowing two runs or less in their previous game. Giants are 5-2 in Vogelsong’s past seven interleague starts. The under is 4-0 in Vogelsong’s past interleague starts. The Tigers are 8-1 in their last nine game after scoring two runs or less in their previous game. Detroit is 1-5 in Sanchez’s past six starts vs. a team with a winning record. The under is 7-0-1 in Detroit’s past eight games vs. a right-handed starter.
Giants at Tigers Game 3 Betting Predictions
Remember that the designated hitter is back for the games in Detroit. Reports are the Giants are leaning toward switch-hitting backup catcher Hector Sanchez as their Game 3 choice. Manager Bruce Bochy also could put Sandoval at DH and upgrade at third defensively with Joaquin Arias. The Tigers will put Delmon Young back at DH and use either Andy Dirks or Quintin Berry in left depending on the matchup.
I still think this goes six games (Cain gets the one win in Detroit), but obviously like the Giants now. San Francisco in six is the +275 favorite at BetOnline. A sweep is +350. A Tigers series win in six is +900 and seven +450. The home crowd jump starts the slumbering Tigers for Game 3, so they are the choice along with the under.
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