2012 World Series: Game 1 Is a Must-Win for the Detroit Tigers

Josh Berenter@JBerenterCorrespondent IOctober 24, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 23:  Starting pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers answers questions during World Series Media Day at AT&T Park on October 23, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Verlander will start game one against the San Francisco Giants tomorrow.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Justin Verlander has been untouchable this postseason for the Detroit Tigers.

That's why the Tigers have to win Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday in San Francisco.

Taking the hill for Detroit in Game 1, Verlander has given up two earned runs while striking out 25 batters in 24 1/3 innings this postseason, earning a 3-0 record and a .074 ERA.

Verlander, who comes into Game 1 on eight days of rest, had a streak of 23 scoreless innings at one point in the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees and has dominated almost every hitter he's faced in October.

But if Verlander struggles in Game 1 and the Tigers allow the Giants to earn their fourth consecutive victory, the Tigers will be in a world of hurt.

The Tigers starting rotation has been outstanding this postseason, but Verlander is the anchor. If the Giants can get to the 29-year-old ace in Game 1, San Francisco will keep home field advantage, hold a 1-0 lead in the series and go into Game 2 at home with a tremendous amount of confidence.

The Giants will also have pulled off an unlikely victory with their second-worst starting pitcher. Barry Zito, who takes the hill for San Francisco in Game 1, had a 4.15 ERA this regular season and even with a 1.74 ERA in the playoffs so far, isn't the pitcher the Giants would prefer to have opposing Verlander.

If Zito squeaks out a series-opening victory, the Giants have Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain looming for Game 3 and Game 4, respectively, on the road.

Vogelsong and Cain have been phenomenal this postseason.

Vogelsong helped keep the Giants alive in the National League Championship Series, giving up just one earned run on four hits, nine strikeouts and one walk in seven innings to earn the Game 6 victory.

With the win, Vogelsong improved his postseason record to 2-0, and lowered his playoff ERA to 1.42.

Matt Cain has been the Giants ace all season, compiling a 16-5 record in the regular season and an ERA of 2.79. Cain was lights out in the Giants Game 7 victory in the NLCS, throwing 5 2/3 shutout innings, giving up five hits.

The Giants have been very good on the road all season, boasting a 46-35 record away from AT&T Park this season, good for fourth in the Major Leagues.

If they are able to find a way to defeat Verlander in Game 1, the Giants will travel to Detroit with at least a 1-1 tie in the series and will be very tough to beat the rest of the way.

The Tigers need this one, badly.