SAN FRANCISCO Marco Scutaro almost never swings andmisses. He seldom strikes out.
In 23 career at-bats against Justin Verlander, hes struckout eight times.
That pretty much tells you what the Giants are up against inGame 1 of the World Series at AT&T Park. Verlander, the reigning AL MVP andCy Young Award winner, already killed the Bernie-leaning As in the NLDS. Nowhell try to drive a stake through another team that seemingly cant be killed.
Just call him Justin Van Helsing.
The Giants do not have the benefit of rest and a perfect alignmentof their rotation, but they have a hopeful symbol in Barry Zito, whose fastballis an Oldsmobile pace car compared to Verlanders Formula One screamer.
One bad omen for Zito: The plate umpire for Game 1 is GerryDavis, who had more runs score on average when he worked the plate than anyother umpire from 2007-2010, according to statistician Andrew Godlblatt.
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Zito, who usually lives on the fringes of the zone, has a5.05 ERA with 25 walks in 35 23 career innings with Davis behind the plate.
His career numbers against the Tigers are encouraging, though. Prince Fielder is just a .167 hitter with one home run in 18 at-bats while Omar Infante is a .150 hittter with no extra-base hits in 20 at-bats. Jhonny Peralta (3 for 14) is no great shakes, either. Zito has only faced Miguel Cabrera a couple times, holding him to 2 for 8 -- both singles -- with two walks and a strikeout.
And for what it's worth, Zito threw six shutout innings, with a three-hour rain delay wedged in the middle, on three days of rest at Detroit last year.
This is the fourth World Series Game 1 that pits two former Cy Young Award winners, although Zito's trophy came a decade ago with the A's. Tim Lincecum beat Cliff Lee in Game in in 2010, Lee started against CC Sabathia in 2009 and Greg Maddux met Orel Hershiser in the 1995 World Series opener.
The postseason is usually about pitching, power and pluck, andthe Giants displayed plenty of the latter while winning six elimination gamesto cheat death against the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals. Theyrightly feel a sense of accomplishment just for making it to the Fall Classic forthe second time in three years.
But Giants manager Bruce Bochy wanted to make sure his teamstayed hungry, so he addressed them prior to Tuesdays workout.
You have to savor special moments like (NLCS Game 7 againstthe Cardinals), you have to enjoy them, which we did, Bochy said. But itstime to move on now, and the journey is not over. We have a big series hereahead of us and its a little different in the World Series. Theres moremedia, more distractions, and I told them, Hey, do what you have to do to makeyourself available to the media, but at the same time, lets keep our focushere. We still have a job to do and a team to play and try to beat.
There are more keys to this series than you could fit on acustodians belt, but here is one important one for the Giants: Get intoDetroits bullpen, which is in disarray with erstwhile closer Jose Valverdeleaving everything over the plate in this postseason. Of course, withVerlander, thats no small feat.
Scutaro is just one of many hitters who must try to putVerlander in the stretch. With one more hit in Game 1, Scutaro will extend his playoffhitting streak to 11 games matching Irish Meusel in 1921-22 for the longestby a Giant in postseason history.
Good ol Irish never had to face Verlander, though.