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World Series analysis: Giants play their best with backs against wall
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy doesn't panic.

"We got them where we want them," Bochy said after the Giants lost the fourth game of the National League Championship Series to trail St. Louis three games to one.

Monday night's rain-sodden 9-0 rout of the Cardinals by San Francisco proved Bochy right.

For the second time this postseason, San Francisco's comeback kids rose from the dead and rallied to win the National League pennant. Next up for the Giants: the formidable Detroit Tigers in the World Series, which begins Wednesday in San Francisco.

Las Vegas may have installed the American League champion Tigers as favorites, but recent history says San Francisco just might win its second championship in three years.

Game 1 is scheduled for a 6:07 p.m. (MDT) start. All games are on Ch. 13.

"If you look at past history, the team that is the hottest going in has won," Salt Lake Bees manager Keith Johnson said. "[San Francisco] has had its back to the wall."

"I definitely think [time off] will play into it. How much, I'm not sure."

Detroit faces an eerily similar situation to the one it had in 2006, the last time the Tigers played in the World Series. Back then, the hottest team in baseball beat the New York Yankees in the Division Series and then swept Oakland in the ALCS.

But all of that momentum died when Detroit could do nothing but wait a week for St. Louis, which won its NLCS in seven. The Tigers played poorly in losing to the Cards in five games. This time around, it is the Giants taking the Cardinals' role. San Francisco, which defeated Texas in the 2010 World Series, was down 2-0 in this year's best-of-three division series against Cincinnati. The Giants swept the Reds in Ohio.

Then, down 3-1 to the Cards, San Francisco roared back to take three straight against the defending World Series champs.

San Francisco prevailed because of pitching and defense. Add timely hitting — and a few crazy breaks, such as Hunter Pence's three-run broken bat double — and you have the winning formula.

"It's a little want and a lot of willpower," said Giants catcher Buster Posey of San Francisco's comeback ability. "I think to do it, guys actually have to believe it can happen."

It's been quite the emotional roller-coaster for San Francisco, which once trailed the NL West race late in the season by 5 ½ games. In April, San Francisco lost closer Brian Wilson for the season. Then the Giants lost batting leader Melky Cabrera to a drug suspension and Pablo Sandoval was on the disabled list twice. —

Matchups

Managers

San Francisco's Bruce Bochy has a lot in common with his Detroit counterpart Jim Leyland. Both were catchers and both are gruff, no nonsense guys; players' managers who have already won a title. "Both have gotten where they are not by luck," Salt Lake Bees manager Keith Johnson said. "When it comes to X's and O's, both are evenly matched."

Advantage — Draw

Lineups

Detroit features the Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and his running mate, Prince Fielder, while N.L. MVP candidate Buster Posey is San Francisco's best hitter. The Giants know how to scratch and claw for runs, while Detroit slumped at times when the back of its lineup didn't produce. How much will the five-day rest cool ALCS MVP Delmon Young? Detroit hit 60 more homers than San Francisco, but the Giants were triples crazy.

Advantage — Detroit

Pitching

Okay, San Francisco's starting rotation is in a shambles. The Giants' best pitchers, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong, won't go until Games three and four. As for well-rested Detroit, its four starters, led by Justin Verlander, have a 1.02 ERA in nine post-season starts. The difference is in the bullpen, where the Giants and Sergio Romo rule. And just who is the Tigers' closer?

Advantage — Starters: Detroit. Bullpen: San Francisco

Defense

Detroit's already shaky defense was made even more so by moving designated hitter Delmon Young to left. Tigers' center fielder Austin Jackson should have no problem with spacious AT&T Park. But the real question involves the infield, where the Tigers' range on ground balls is woefully inadequate. Conversely, San Francisco, with the exception of Pablo Sandoval at third, is rock solid.

Advantage — San Francisco

Wild Card

Every World Series one player emerges to make a difference. In the LCS, Young and San Francisco's second baseman Marco Scutaro emerged to win MVP awards. Tigers catcher Alex Avila, an All-Star in 2011, slumped through an injury-plagued 2012. The rest mayl help him break out. San Francisco needs only to look at first base and Brandon Belt.

Advantge — Detroit

Prediction

Tigers in 7, with Verlander pitching the clincher

Did you know?

The New York/San Francisco Giants have won 19 National League pennants. They previously won the World Series in 1905, 1921, 1922, 1933, 1954, 2010.

The Detroit Tigers have won 11 American League Pennants. The previously won the World Series in 1935, 1945, 1968, 1984. Schedule

Games begin at 6:07 p.m. on Ch. 13. *If necessary

Wednesday, Game 1 • Detroit at San Francisco

Thursday, Game 2 • Detroit at San Francisco

Saturday, Game 3 • San Francisco at Detroit

Sunday, Game 4 • San Francisco at Detroit

*Monday, Game 5 • San Francisco at Detroit

*Oct. 31, Game 6 • Detroit at San Francisco

*Nov. 1, Game 7 • Detroit at San Francisco —

Did you know?

The New York/San Francisco Giants have won 19 National League pennants. They previously won the World Series in 1905, 1921, 1922, 1933, 1954, 2010.

The Detroit Tigers have won 11 American League Pennants. The previously won the World Series in 1935, 1945, 1968, 1984.

Analysis • But Tigers will win in seven, thanks to their starting pitching.
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