4 games to go.
What a tremendous season:
AL Central Division Champs.
AL Division Series Champs.
Triple Crown Winner.
Perhaps another Cy Young winner.
But you know what? It’s not enough. The D deserves more. And we’re gonna get it.
Now, as I’m sure you have all see, there is an abundance of Tigers media out there right now. It’s starting to consume my life, to be honest. But we only get a max of 9 days of this, so I’m just gonna fight through it. I do, however, want to point out a touching ESPN.com story on Jim Leyland, and one on CNN SI about winning the title for Mr. I. If you can spare some time in-between the hundreds of other articles out there, check ’em out.
The Tigers advance to the World Series for the 11th time in franchise history – with 4 wins in ’35, ’45, ’68 and ’84. I’ve only been around for the ’84 series, but all I remember from ’84 is the kick-ass place-mats from Elias Brothers. Yes, I just bid on those. If the Tigers win again, I’ll buy whatever place-mats Big Boy puts out for 2012.
So on to tonight’s game.
Barry Zito, who still has another year left on his massive 7 year contract that pays him roughly $18M per year, climbs the mound for the Giants. Since signing that tremendous contract, which at the time was the largest contract ever given to a pitcher, Zito has been a tremendous disappointment. Until this year he had not posted a winning record with the Giants, and has still yet to post a sub-4 ERA. Over the years Zito has morphed from a hard throwing lefty with two great out pitches (curve & change) to a finesse pitcher who rarely tops 87 and looks to work the corners and fool the hitters. Today, he throws a few different fastballs and his curve and change in roughly equal proportions.
In 2012, Zito went 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, walked 3.42/9, and only struck out only 5.57/9. Bochy’s decision to go with Zito for Game 5 of the NLCS looked to be more of a long-shot than anything, though his masterful 7.2 IP, 6 H, 0 ER effort may have sparked the Giants to the NL pennant. But all in all, he’s a mediocre pitcher who will try to out think the Tigers (remember that Kenny Rogers had quite a bit of success doing this for the Tigers in the ’06 playoffs).
The Tigers haven’t hit that well in the postseason, though they are hitting better than everyone else. DY and Peralta look to be locked in, and Fielder and Cabrera could each carry a game on their own. Not much history v. Zito, but Cabby is 2-8, Fielder is 3-18, and DY is 2-3.
Verlander takes the ball perched as the best pitcher in baseball (if you believe the pundits, stats, fans, other players, etc.). This will be JV’s 12th career postseason start, and 3rd in the World Series.
The Tigers lineup is as expected, other than Avila in against the lefty Zito. But Laird is 3-15 off of Zito, and Avila has caught all 3 of JVs postseason starts this year.
A few notes:
– Buster Posey was the best hitter in baseball against lefties this year – .433/.470/.793.
– DY plated all four game winning RBIs in the Yankee series – making him the 1st player in MLB history to do that. Heck, 4 game winning RBI in any single post-season series is an MLB record.
Your Game 1 Lineup:
1. Jackson, CF
2. Infante, 2B
3. Cabrera, 3B
4. Fielder, 1B
5. Young, LF
6. Peralta, SS
7. Garcia, RF
8. Avila, C
9. Verlander, P