MAMBINO’s World Series Preview

The 108th World Series starts tonight, so let’s set the stage:

The American League’s Detroit Tigers will be playing in only their third World Series in nearly thirty years, seeking their first title since 1984. Led by a pitching staff including reigning AL Cy Young and MVP award winner Justin Verlander peaking at the right minute, the Motor City’s professional baseball team will attempt to complete their quest of resurrecting a once proud franchise, a task they couldn’t quite finish off in 2006. 

Meanwhile, the National League champion San Francisco Giants are seeking their second title in three seasons. Prospective NL MVP Buster Posey and NL Cy Young hopeful Matt Cain have helped keep the SF squad at the top of Major League Baseball, despite losing Brian Wilson for the season in April, All-Star starting OF Melky Cabrera to a drug suspension in July and Tim Lincecum to an abduction last season that still hasn’t been solved. The Giants could be the first National League team to win two World Series within a three year span since the mid-seventies. In related news, I will vomit for a week straight if this happens.
In true MAMBINO fashion, we polled our rugged writing crew and came up with a consensus pick to win it all. However, in the interest of hedging our bets, we’re also going to bring you the alternative opinion. Let ‘er rip!

Why the Tigers will win the World Series in 5 Games
The Source: Defense wins championships right? Isn’t that the key? Good pitching beats good hitting?

It seems easy enough. The Tigers have been dominant on the mound. Look at their starters over their 9 postseason games: 62.0 IP, 7 ER. That’s pretty good. The guys in the bullpen have been solid too, except, of course, the set-up guy and the closer. But it hasn’t mattered. The starters have been going deep, the bullpen has been near perfect, and instead of watching Valverde blow saves and dance about it, manager Jim Leyland has been using the very solid Phil Coke. He’s earned 2 saves against the Yankees in the ALCS and totally owning the clubhouse open mic during the ALCS Game 4 rain-out with killer “guess what I found in this guy’s air duct” stories. 
Actually, Benoit and Valverde, the “reliable” 8thand 9th inning guys, are the only Tiger pitchers to give up runs out of the bullpen.  Oh well; Leyland has been picking his matchups well and it’s paying off. With a sweep of the Yankees, Detroit’s got their starting rotation set just how they want it and everyone is well rested. Plus, one of the advantages the Giants having coming in is their momentum but with Verlander on the hill in game 1, San Fran could hit the wall hard.
As for offense, hitting is always tough in the postseason. The Tigers haven’t been blowing anyone away with their huge power numbers but their lineup is a scary one to face. You know Austin Jackson, you know Miguel and Prince, and you’ve probably heard about Delmon Young winning the ALCS MVP, committing hate crimes, and driving in 8 runs in 9 postseason games – great. But some of the lesser known guys are playing well too. Jhonny Peralta is leading the team in first-name misspellings and a .343 BA through the first two series, rookie Avisail Garcia is hitting .333 with 4 RBI, and good ol’ Don “No really, I look like this and play professional sports” Kelly even won a game for us back against Oakland. 
The Giants seem like a team of annoying guys who aren’t great hitters but get big hits. Plus Buster Posey. So they’re hot and the best way to stop a hot team is good pitching. That’s why you call your ace the stopper. Well Verlander is our ace and stopper and I think our tallest player too, so how can you bet against him in Game 1? He’s too good right now. Maybe the Giants take Game 2 at home. But with games 3, 4, and 5 in Detroit and Verlander scheduled for Game 5, I’m betting the farm on the Tigers. 
But how could the Giants turn it around and take it in 5 or 6 games? 
KOBEsh: Just to be clear, I’ve put out a few lit cigarettes on my arm and have been drinking…heavily just to write these few paragraphs. Sweet fat baby Jesus dressed in a Tommy Lasorda bodysuit help me…I’m picking the San Francisco Giants to win the World Series. I’m going to papercut myself between the toes. 
Please don’t mistake this as any type of lofty journalistic ambitions getting in the way of my fandom: I hope the Gigantes eat it, and eat it hard. I‘m looking for the Tigers put up a 10 spot every single inning and that Prince Fielder barrels into second base so hard that Marco Scutaro shrinks down into a calzone, like a tiny Italian Transformer toy. I would like nothing more than to see Matt Cain get lit up, as his painstakingly attractive wife looks on an cries and the Dodger faithful collectively keels over laughing with glee. I want all bad things to happen to the San Francisco Giants short of death and/or dismemberment, but all the way up to haunting memories that will linger on their souls til the very end, like the pomengranate juice that fancy pris Madison Bumgarner just spilled on his pima cotton shirt. 
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a discerning eye for baseball. I know the hot team when I see it, and I can feel when one squad knows more definitively than the other that “this is our time”. The devils in orange have that look upon their faces. 
The once offensively maligned Giants have absolutely come alive in these playoffs, scoring 4 1/2 runs a game and knocking starters out in the early innings. They’ve manufactured runs the way they have all regular season, but in addition have miraculously added power to their bats: SF has socked 10 homers in 12 games after being dead last in the NL during the regular season. Oddly enough their best two players, Buster Posey and Hunter Pence, are both hitting below .190 with at least 10 strikeouts a piece. Meanwhile, NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro (oh God…just vomited again), Pablo Sandoval and Brandon freakin‘ Crawford are all hitting over .300 with men in scoring position, and Gregor Blanco is tied for second on the team for extra-base hits. The Giants are getting production from everywhere else on their roster, which makes their two series wins that much more surprising. Getting beat by Pence and Posey is admissible, but Crawford and the should-be-extinct panda? Unacceptable. 
More pertinently to the World Series, this Giants team has mangled right handed starters this postseason, putting up four runs a piece on Kyle Lohse, Lance Lynn and Chris Carpenter in the NLCS, and beating up on Mat Latos in the deciding Game 5 of the NLDS. Their new opponents in the Series, the Detroit Tigers? Four prominent right-handed pitchers, all of which are coming in just as hot as three of St. Louis’ starters did just over a week ago. The last thing that a team should do is feed a hot team exactly what it’s been gettin‘ it’s rocks off to during it’s streak. I’m afraid Detroit is doing just that. Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez are two soft tossers who pick their spots and rely on deception and smarts, very similar to Kyle Lohse…who just got annhilated twice in the NLCS. If the Tigers want to win, Verlander is going to have to dominate his two games, and the inconsistent Max Scherzer will have to follow suit, as I expect Sanchez and Fister to go down hard. 
As for the pitching? Not exactly as advertised, but as deadly. Matt Cain has been aces since Game 1 against the Reds, while Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito have put on their hero capes in the stead of Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum. The SF ‘pen has been even better, striking out 40 in 42 innings of work and limiting opposing teams to just a .212 average. Detroit has been absolutely destroying right handed pitching this postseason, but unluckily for the Tigers, Bruce Bochy is coming after them with two lefties, one of which is dealing right now (Zito), while the other one (Bumgarner) could switch it on at any second. 
Most importantly, this Giants team just doesn’t give a crap what game it is, what the situation and how dire the consequence. I hate to be cliche, but Bruce Bochy’s boys are experienced vets who don’t feel the crunch in the tough moments. They’ve played in five elimination games this October, and won all of them while giving up just 9 total runs. Unbelievable.  
This is just a bad matchup for Detroit. San Francisco has a hot lineup that’s always been able to play small ball, but can now mash with the big boys too. The Tigers’ pen is especially vulnerable, and if Phil Coke is Jim Leyland’s best late-game weapon, I don’t see the Giants flinching at all. Unlike the ALCS, Detroit (aside from Verlander) isn’t going to be able to rely on their right-handed starters lasting long into games: SF has been wearing out those types of hurlers early and often for weeks now.  I’ve run this series over and over in my mind, desperately hoping to find some sort of loophole that will logically allow me to believe Detroit is going to win this thing. The only solace I’ve found? This is baseball and anything can happen. Maybe all of the Giants’ bit players will go cold, and Posey and Pence will continue to accompany them in the deep freeze. Maybe Detroit’s lineup will feast on San Francisco’s two righties like they’ve been doing all posteason long, even though those two in the Bay have been nigh untouchable thus far. And maybe AT&T Park will fall into the ocean. That’s all I got. 
San Francisco in five games. Verlander will take care of one, but an overmatched Detroit rotation and a terrible bullpen will be their undoing. More than ever, I hope I am dead wrong. But I don’t think I am. 
Go Dodgers. And please let this not happen. 

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