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edge staff writer


World Series thoughts by the numbers

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San Francisco and Detroit meet in the 108th Fall Classic

We're well into autumn the leaves have all changed and there's a chill in the air. And after an arduous six-plus months, a long season that began with 30 teams seeking that ultimate victory, we are left with only two. The Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants are set to take the field and do battle in the World Series.

Let's take a look at some interesting numbers, a few fun facts from the playoffs, the regular season and the mists of antiquity:

0 number of times the Tigers and Giants have faced each other in the World Series, despite 29 total appearances between the two teams.

2 the number of runs given up by Tigers ace Justin Verlander in the 2012 postseason. In just over 24 innings, Verlander has allowed 10 hits and struck out 25, with an ERA of 0.74. He has a shutout and has wins in all three of his starts.

5 number of days off the Tigers have between their elimination of the Yankees and Game 1 of the World Series.

6 the number of consecutive elimination games the Giants have won this postseason. They are only the second team ever to do it (the 1985 Kansas City Royals were the first).

19 times (counting this one) the San Francisco/New York Giants have appeared in the World Series, breaking a tie with the Cardinals and Dodgers for most appearances ever by a National League team.

28 the number of seasons since Detroit won its last World Series championship in 1984.

45 the number of years that had passed since a hitter won the Triple Crown until Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera accomplished the feat this season. No batter had done it since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

244 the (extremely generous) listed weight of Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, the Giants' best hitter this postseason and possessor of perhaps the greatest nickname in baseball today 'Kung Fu Panda.'

.346 the league-leading batting average of Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera the day he was suspended for the rest of the season for performance-enhancing drug use. The Giants still wound up with the batting champ on their roster (Buster Posey).

5.14 the regular season ERA of one-time Giants ace Tim Lincecum. The two-time Cy Young Award winner had the worst season of his career and has been relegated to middle relief for much of the postseason.

9.58 the number of strikeouts per nine innings averaged by the Tigers starting pitchers in the 2012 postseason.

This mish-mash of numbers certainly doesn't tell the whole story, but it does give a sense of where these two teams were over the course of the regular season, where they are right now and where they've been historically.

Detroit certainly looks like they are firing on all cylinders right now. Their pitching staff has been lights-out since the playoffs began. Their lineup is producing some solid offense, and that's with a slumping Prince Fielder in the mix. Still, you've got Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera anchoring the middle of the order and some unlikely heroes (ALCS MVP Delmon Young springs to mind) leaping to the forefront and picking up the slack.

Ace Justin Verlander is making his case as the best pitcher on the planet right now. He's as dominant as any pitcher in the game, and the lengthy stretch of time off between series ensures that Verlander can go three times in a seven game series; not good news for the Giants. Especially since the other starters - Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez have been almost as good as the ace. Closer Jose Valverde has been shaky, but Phil Coke has stepped up his game and mostly supplanted the erratic reliever.

On paper, San Francisco looks like the weaker team. Both of their playoff series thus far have been nailbiters they've spent seemingly the entire postseason desperately staving off elimination. Their lineup has almost none of the luster that Detroit's does Buster Posey is an elite talent, but on one else on the roster hit more than 12 home runs this season. It's an offense that has to scratch and claw for every run. That said, they've scratched and clawed their way to the World Series, so they're obviously doing something right.

The pitching staff of the Giants has no such issues. While the Tigers staff has made the leap this offseason, the Giants rotation has been largely excellent all season. All five starters made at least 31 starts Matt Cain was excellent, while Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong were very good and even Barry Zito was decent. Not even a terrible year from ostensible ace Tim Lincecum could torpedo this group. They haven't been quite as dominant in October; Lincecum has bounced back a bit, but Bumgarner has been awful. Still, they've found ways to win.

Those who read The Maine Edge with any regularity are aware of my abysmal track record when it comes to predicting the outcomes of sporting events. However, I am not the type to stop doing something just because I'm terrible at it. And so?

Tigers in 6.

My apologies to 'Downtown with Rich Kimball' producer Bryan Stackpole and any other Tigers fans in the area - don't hate me, Schwab! - for dooming your team to yet another October near-miss. And to all you Giants fans out there? You're welcome.


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