Saturday, May 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Giants make some surprising decisions when picking World Series rotation

SAN FRANCISCO — There really wasn't any question about which pitchers were going to pitch tonight's World Series opener.

For the Tigers, it had to be ace Justin Verlander.

"He told me he was pitching Game 1," manager Jim Leyland cracked, "so I said, 'Okay.' "

And for the Giants, who used Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain in NLCS Games 6 and 7, it had to be Barry Zito.

But it was how the Giants set up the rest of their rotation — with LHP Madison Bumgarner in Game 2, Vogelsong in Game 3, Cain in Game 4 and Tim Lincecum back in the bullpen — that prompted plenty of questions.

Specifically, why Bumgarner, the 22-year-old who was so bad in the NLCS opener that he didn't pitch again, is getting another shot?

Basically, manager Bruce Bochy said, because Bumgarner looks to have his mechanics straightened out and that Lincecum could be of more value pitching in several games.

Additionally, why Vogelsong in Game 3 then a potential Game 7 rather than Cain?

Because, Bochy implied, Vogelsong is pitching better right now. "He's throwing the ball as well as anybody on the staff, so we just kept it in order," Bochy said. "If Vogelsong gets the last start, we have no problem with that."

The rest of the Tigers rotation has Doug Fister in Game 2, Anibal Sanchez in Game 3 and Max Scherzer in Game 4.

RUST VS. REST: The question was asked dozens of times during Tuesday's media day, but no one really knows whether the Tigers will be affected by their five-day layoff since sweeping the Yankees out of the ALCS.

They were faced with a week layoff before the 2006 Series — in part due to bad weather in Detroit that kept them off the field — and looked flat in losing to the Cardinals. So they were proactive this year, holding extensive workouts and two simulated games, even flying in some instructional league players to provide opposition. (Further, Leyland said, had the weather been bad they were considering flying south and working out at their spring complex in Lakeland.)

"Our pitchers actually faced our hitters and our hitters faced our pitchers, and we played a couple games and we had a couple nice little workouts," Leyland said. "And we had like a five- and a seven-inning game just to try to stay sharp and do something. It wasn't some wonderful plan that we came up with. It was pretty much common sense."

Further, Leyland wanted to clarify that they weren't caught unprepared in '06.

"Some people would indicate we sat around happy to get there, not doing anything, eating bon-bons," Leyland said. "That wasn't the case. We ran into bad weather problems in Detroit, so we were really handicapped."

MISCELLANY: The Game 1 winner has won the Series 62 percent of the time, including 13 of the past 15. … The Giants lead the overall series with the Tigers 7-5, last meeting in July 2011.

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