Prediction vs. Reality: Game 4 of the 2012 World Series

Throughout the 2012 World Series, I’ll be taking a look at what I thought I’d be writing alongside what actually happened.

What I thought I’d be writing before the series: Well, it’s over. The 2012 Major League Baseball season- started in Japan in March- has ended. And the Tigers have come out on top, winning in six games for their first title since 1984.

It was a little scary near the beginning of the series, as Verlander got dusted up before buckling down for the Game 1 win, but then San Francisco won the next two games,  as the Tigers’ seemed rusty after the long layoff after the ALCS. But they soon had shaken off that rust, winning the next three games to win the series…

What actually happened in the series: Well, it’s over. The 2012 Major League Baseball season- started in Japan in March- has ended. And the San Francisco Giants have come out on top, sweeping the Tigers for their second title in three years.

The culprit, perhaps, was the long layoff after the ALCS, something that the Tigers’ hitters only started to shake off in Game 4, far too late and not enough to make a difference beyond forcing extra innings. However, to simply say that the Tigers were rusty would be doing a disservice to the San Francisco Giants, the new champions. They outpitched, outhit, outfielded and outmanaged the Tigers, taking advantage of every opportunity they received and squashing what few rallies the Tigers were able to muster. Whether it was Sergio Romo, any of the starting pitchers, Marco Scutaro, Buster Posey or “Kung Fu Panda” himself, Pablo Sandoval, they always seemed to come through when they needed to.

And that is why they are the champions.

More on the series and the 2012 season in the coming days.

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Prediction vs. Reality: Game 3 of the 2012 WS

Throughout the 2012 World Series, I’ll be taking a look at what I thought I’d be writing alongside what actually happened.

What I thought I’d be writing (about the time the bases were loaded): Well, this series will go at least five games, as the Tigers finally came up in the clutch, roaring back from an early deficit to win Game 3 of the World Series. The Tigers still have a long way to go if they intend on winning this series- especially as they will, no matter what, have to play one more game in San Francisco, but they saved this series from the irrelevance that sweeps often bring to playoff series.

What actually happened: As soon as the Tigers failed to score with the bases loaded, it was clear to almost everyone that this is probably going to be a sweep. The Tigers have nothing: much like the Yankees they defeated and the Orioles that the Yankees defeated (and, for that matter, the Rangers the Orioles defeated), they just don’t have the key hits when they need them. This isn’t to say that the Tigers have had a bad series: they were competitive in both Game 2 and Game 3, but they have failed to hit, flailing at the Giants’ pitches, grounding into double plays with regular frequency, and failing to capitalize on the few mistakes San Francisco has made.

On paper, one would think that if a team could come back from a 3-0 deficit in the World Series, it would be the pitching-rich Tigers. However, that idea is flawed when one remembers that A) They still would have to win four straight games, B) They’d need to remember how to hit, C) The Giants’ pitchers have been dialed in and D) They’d have to win two games on the road. But enough about that, the Tigers need to first win one game… and that “one game” will have to come against Matt Cain.

It’s a shame that the 2012 baseball season has seemingly come down to this: it was, by almost all measures, a great success that saw surprising teams, great performances, and attendance that was up overall from last season. Now, though, the sport’s grandest showcase could end in four straight games in a snoozer of a series that only people in San Francisco are enjoying.

But that’s baseball: sometimes stuff like that happens. And, it should be noted, the series still isn’t over. So maybe, just maybe, the 2012 MLB season has one last big surprise left in it.

Maybe.

Prediction vs. Reality: Game 2 of the 2012 WS

Throughout the 2012 World Series, I’ll be taking a look at what I thought I’d be writing alongside what actually happened.
What I thought I’d be writing: Something that started with “Madison Bumgarner has allowed the Tigers to get back into this series, as his late season struggles continued…”

What actually happened: Madison Bumgarner is back and the Giants appear to be a team of destiny, catching every break and, what’s more, taking advantage of those breaks. Plenty of teams can have a 3-1 bunt fall miraculously fair, stopping perfectly to load the bases, but not every team can then get not one but two runs, despite there being a double-play immediately after said miracle-bunt.

And then, not only that, but their pitching (starting and bullpen) has been brilliant so far. One wonders, for example, whether Prince Fielder would have been sent home if the Tigers had shown more power this series so far. That said, you could argue that it was the right move- only heads-up plays by the Giants’ fielders (especially Marco Scutaro and Buster Posey) were able to get him at the plate. It was a nice call by the umpire too, one that I worry might have been blown until I saw the replay.

Right now, the Giants are most definitely in the driver’s seat: they have defeated the undefeatable (Verlander) and silenced the Tigers’ mighty bats. And, it should be noted, they haven’t even had their two best pitchers (Cain and Vogelsong) go yet. Game 3- Sanchez vs. Vogelsong- is a must-win for Detroit. If the Tigers don’t win tomorrow, it might not simply mean that the Giants will be the World Champions, it will mean that a sweep could be in the making.

Prediction vs. Reality: Game 1 of the 2012 WS

Throughout the 2012 World Series, I’ll be taking a look at what I thought I’d be writing alongside what actually happened.
What I thought I’d be writing: Justin Verlander is the new face of baseball. He’s won the Rookie of the Year, he’s won one Cy Young Award and will probably win another, he’s won an MVP, he’s thrown two no-hitters, he reportedly is dating SI covergirl Kate Upton, and now he can add to his list of accomplishments the title of “Mr. October,” as he wrecked the San Francisco Giants with a complete-game shutout where he struck out 12 as the Tigers won 7-0 in Game 1.

Barry Zito did better than most probably expected, but he couldn’t duplicate his NLCS Game 5 performance, giving up 4 earned runs….

What actually happened: The Giants won 8-3 in Game 1 and Pablo Sandoval is Mr. October. He may not have the same pedigree as the previous hitters to go deep thrice in one World Series game (Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols are Hall-of-Famers or will be one day, while “Kung Fu Panda” won’t), but he probably did it against the best pitching. While Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols did it against three different pitchers and Babe Ruth did it before the flame-throwing pitcher had become commonplace, Sandoval did it with two home runs against the greatest pitcher on the planet, a previously-thought untouchable Justin Verlander. His third home run, against Al Albuquerque, must have seemed downright mundane compared to his earlier exploits.

Meanwhile, on the mound, Barry Zito has continued his resurrection, going 5.2 innings, giving up six hits and only one earned run, while himself driving in a run against Justin Verlander. If you thought that this would happen- and that he would be replaced in the game by Tim Lincecum (the first time since 1983 that a Cy Young winner relieved another Cy Young winner in the World Series)- then you are a liar.

Of course, this now puts the entire series into question. While many thought that the Tigers might be rusty, few thought that rust would hit Verlander, especially as hard as it did. What was supposed to be the 29-year-old’s coronation has now turned into a possible wake for the 2012 Detroit Tigers, who now must come back from this 1-0 deficit while dealing with the now-questionable starting pitching and a relief corps that has it’s former anchor (Valverde) in shambles. Thankfully for the Tigers, Game 2 will be against Madison Bumgarner, who was bad down the stretch and struggled in his previous postseason start this year. If the Tigers can get a jump on him and Doug Fister can play with minimal rust, they still have a good shot at making this a tied series heading back to Detroit.

Nuggets of Info heading into the World Series

Here are little nuggets and factoids as we head into the World Series:

  • The last time the Detroit Tigers won the World Series, it was 1984, when they defeated the Padres in five games. On that Padres team: Bruce Bochy, now the manager of the San Francisco Giants. In fact, the last player to get a hit in that series was Bochy, who singled in the top of the ninth inning in Game 5.
  • With this World Series, the Giants have faced every member of the American League’s Original Eight with the exception of the Browns/Orioles.
  • Not many players from the 2006 Tigers and 2010 Giants are still on their teams. Only Justin Verlander, Omar Infante and Ramon Santiago were on the 2006 Tigers, and the only regular position players from the 2010 Giants who still are on the team are Buster Posey, Aubrey Huff and Pablo Sandoval (and Sandoval wasn’t even on the postseason roster in 2010), although there are still plenty of pitchers left from 2010.
  • Barry Zito is a career 8-6, 2.91 ERA pitcher against the Detroit Tigers.
  • Prince Fielder is a career .274 hitter with 5 HR against the San Francisco Giants.
  • Notable players who have had significant time with both franchises: Darrell Evans, Larry Herndon and Harvey Kuenn.
  • The “Ex-Cub Factor” is sometimes said to be able to predict the winner of the World Series, by saying that the team with more ex-Cubs will lose. In this case, the Tigers will win, as they have no players who had an official appearance with the Cubs. The Giants, meanwhile, have two ex-Cubs (Xavier Nady and Angel Pagan).
  • Not like it matters, but in all-time interleague match-ups, the Giants have won 7 of the 12 meetings.

And now you know.

The Continuum’s 2012 World Series Preview

It’s the 108th World Series! If this were the Super Bowl, we’d give it a cool Roman numeral name, like World Series CVIII, but that’s not how it works, so it’s just called the “2012 World Series”.

On paper, it could be either a treat or a blow-out. The Tigers could maul the Giants like they mauled the Yankees, taking advantage of their superior pitching and their more powerful hitters.

But, on the other hand, the Giants will be fresher and have more momentum, having only just recently finished their series against the Cardinals. This might not seem like much, but consider that in history, there have been three times where a team that swept their LCS faced a team that went the distance in an LCS in the World Series. All three times, the team that had to go the distance won. In addition, San Francisco has the more settled bullpen, and they will have home-field advantage, primarily because various Giants (most notably the now-exiled Melky Cabrera) beat up on Detroit über-ace Justin Verlander in the All-Star Game.

So how will it turn out? Check out my analysis after the jump:

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The 3-in-1 hit Was Fine

So, like a demolition crew, the Giants won 9-0 last night in a eventually rain-soaked Game 7. The game’s signature play, however, was Hunter Pence’s double during the third inning. You can see a GIF of the play over at Deadspin, but in essence, as the bat broke into two the barrel hit the ball not once, not twice, but thrice. This, of course, caused some weird spin to come onto the ball, badly confusing Cardinals’ rookie SS Pete Kozma, who made a bad first move that allowed what could have been a double play to instead be a double that burst the game open.

Some online have said that there is a rule that anybody who hits the ball twice or more with the bat is out and the ball is dead. See rule 6.05 H:

(The batter is out if…) After hitting or bunting a fair ball, his bat hits the ball a second time in fair
territory. The ball is dead and no runners may advance.

 

Looking at this, you would think this would mean that Pence should have been out. But, well, that’s only if you don’t read a comment below that:

Rule 6.05(h) Comment: If a bat breaks and part of it is in fair territory and is hit by a batted
ball or part of it hits a runner or fielder, play shall continue and no interference called.

 

Pence’s bat broke, and this is part of the reason why it hit the ball several times, as it trampolined back into the ball. Therefore, the play is valid.

Now, of course, there would have been no way for the umpire to have seen the bat hit several times anyway, as the umpire didn’t have the super-slow-motion replay that FOX’s broadcast had. And, besides, this type of unintentional multi-bat-hitting isn’t what the rule is there for. Instead, it is there to stop, say, a guy bunting a ball in the air and then playing fungo with it.

And now you know.