Baseball fans are in store for a dream matchup on the sport's grandest stage this fall, as the Detroit Tigers will face off against the San Francisco Giants in the best-of-seven World Series.
Each team has taken a very different path to this fall's championship series. While the Giants have relied on clutch play in elimination games to get them here, the Tigers have ridden strong pitching and timely hitting to a 7-2 postseason mark.
There can only be one winner, though, so something has to give this October.
Here's what to expect from both teams in the 2012 World Series, which is set to begin with Game 1 on Wednesday in San Francisco.
San Francisco's Bats Will Deliver
The Giants proved just how lethal they can be at the plate in their last series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Trailing 3-1, San Francisco's offense exploded, outscoring St. Louis 20-1 over the series' final three matchups.
San Francisco's powerful lineup was ignited by the superb play of Marco Scutaro, who won NLCS MVP honors and is batting .354 in these playoffs.
Pablo Sandoval has also stepped up big time for the Giants in October. Kung Fu Panda is batting .320 with nine RBI and three home runs. Sandoval and Scutaro have combined for more than one-third of San Francisco's hits this postseason.
Even though Detroit's Jhonny Peralta, Delmon Young and Miguel Cabrera are playing excellent baseball coming in, I like the Giants' big bats to get off to a hot start at home, having just finished their NLCS series with the Cardinals.
Verlander Will Continue Sensational Postseason
Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander has been a machine on the mound for the American League champions this October, and I fully expect that to continue in the World Series vs. San Francisco.
The former Cy Young winner is 3-0 in these playoffs with a ridiculous 0.74 ERA and 25 strikeouts. In his only road start this postseason, Verlander annihilated the Oakland Athletics lineup, allowing just four hits and striking out 11 in a closeout game.
Verlander will start Game 1 on the road Wednesday and then will likely be due up for Game 5 in Detroit if necessary. With Verlander playing at a superhuman level at the ideal time, I like the Tigers to win both of his starts to guarantee the series marches back to the West Coast for at least a Game 6.
Giants Will Win in Six
I love the San Francisco Giants in this series, if for nothing else, because they have been so clutch all postseason long. The Giants are 6-0 in elimination games this October and just erased a 3-1 hole to the defending World Series champions in the NLCS.
To be the best, you have to beat the best, and the Giants just did that in their last series.
You can't find a much hotter baseball team right now than San Francisco. Throw in the fact that the Giants have a dominant, deep bullpen and home-field advantage, and they seem like virtual locks to win it all in 2012.
With Verlander likely getting two starts in this series, though, I expect we'll make it back to AT&T Park for a Game 6. There, I like the Giants to cap off a 4-2 series win and begin celebrating their second World Series title in three years.
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