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World Series pits rested Tigers against surging Giants

The SportsXchange

The Detroit Tigers are rested and ready.

And now the American League champions know the opponent they will be facing in the World Series: the San Francisco Giants, the team that can't be killed.

The Giants advanced Monday night by beating the St. Louis Cardinals 9-0 in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The waterfront ballpark will be the venue Wednesday night when the World Series opens.

The Tigers wrapped up their dominating four-game sweep of the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series last Thursday night. They will work out at AT&T Park on Tuesday night after spending the previous three days tuning up at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland gave his team a day off Friday. The Detroit players then spent Saturday and Sunday scrimmaging against minor-leaguers who were taking part in the organization's Florida instructional league program before holding a light workout Monday.

The Tigers had a similar layoff in 2006 after sweeping the Oakland Athletics in the ALCS, and they played sloppily while losing in the World Series in five games to the Cardinals.

"I don't know if there is any right or wrong way to prepare when you have that much free time," Leyland said. "We tried to come up with a plan that we felt was pretty good. Nothing can simulate playing in an actual major league game, but we did what we could to try to stay as sharp as possible."

The Giants should have momentum on their side after going 6-0 in elimination games so far in this postseason. They came from 2-0 down to beat the Cincinnati Reds in five games in the NL Division Series, then overcame a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Cardinals in the NLCS.

"It's been a lot of want and a lot of willpower and every guy on this team believing we can win," Giants catcher Buster Posey said.

The advantage the Tigers have from the long break that they can set up their rotation to full advantage.

Tigers starters have been dominant in October, and they allowed just two runs in 27 2/3 innings in the ALCS for a 0.65 ERA. Their ERA is 1.01 in nine postseason games, including a five-game victory over the Athletics in the AL Division Series.

Ace Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64 ERA in the regular season) will start Game 1. He will be followed by fellow right-handers Doug Fister (10-10, 3.45), Anibal Sanchez (9-13, 3.86) and Max Scherzer (16-7, 3.74).

San Francisco, meanwhile, won't have right-handers Ryan Vogelsong (14-9, 3.37) and Matt Cain (16-5, 2.79) available until the series shifts to Detroit for Game 3 on Saturday night after using them in Games 6 and 7 of the NLCS.

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy will have to decide whether to go with left-handers Madison Bumgarner (16-11, 3.37) and Barry Zito (15-8, 4.15) or righty Tim Lincecum (10-15, 5.18) in the first two games. Bochy removed Bumgarner from the NLCS rotation after Bumgarner was tagged for six runs in a 3 2/3 innings in Game 1. Lincecum has also seen bullpen duty during the postseason after a disappointing regular season.

Though the Tigers seem to have a huge edge in the pitching matchups, Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro said his team isn't worried.

"They're just another team we have to beat," said Scutaro, who went 14-for-28 (.500) to win MVP honors in the NLCS.

Bochy has only one day to prepare the Giants for the Tigers, but he has a pretty good idea of what his team is facing.

"I know what a great club they are," Bochy said. "And we all know about the guy we're going to be opening up against and their whole staff. They swept the Yankees. That tells you how good they are."

The Giants were eighth in the majors in runs allowed (4.01) and 12th in runs scored (4.43) during the regular season. In the postseason, though, the Giants have scored 5.89 runs a game and given up 4.33.

The Tigers were a balanced team in the regular season, as they finished 11th in the major leagues in both runs scored (4.48 a game) and runs allowed (4.14). In the postseason, the Tigers have scored 4.00 runs a game and given up just 1.89.

"Our pitching has carried us throughout the whole playoffs, so we haven't needed to go out there and score five, six runs every game to win the ballgame," said Tigers designated hitter/left fielder Delmon Young, who was chosen the MVP of the ALCS after hitting .353 (6-for-17) with two home runs and six RBI.

"With the zeros they've been putting up, one to two runs with them is a lot because they are hot going into every game and pitching deep into the ballgames."

The Tigers would love to see their starters continue to log many innings in the World Series, as closer Jose Valverde has struggled in October, allowing seven runs in 2 1/3 postseason innings. He did not pitch again in the ALCS after allowing the Yankees to score four runs in the ninth inning in Game 1. Valverde allowed two-run homers by Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez to tie the game at 4-4, but the Tigers won 6-4 in 12 innings.

Leyland said Valverde is still his closer, but left-hander Phil Coke got the final out in each of the last three games of the ALCS, earning the save in two of them. Coke has just six regular-season saves in his five-year career.

The Giants' bullpen is anchored by right-hander Sergio Romo, who closed out all four of San Francisco's NLCS victories. Romo had 14 saves in the regular season as the Giants shared the closer role with right-hander Brian Wilson out after having season-ending Tommy John surgery in April.
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