Batter up! The 108th World Series begins at 8 p.m. ET tonight with the first game of a best-of-seven series that pits the Detroit Tigers against the San Francisco Giants. The matchup is somewhat historic: Though both the Tigers and Giants have existed for more than 100 years, the two teams have never faced each other in the World Series. Here, everything you need to know about this year's World Series:
How did both teams get here?
Neither team was particularly stellar in the first half of the regular season, but both came on strong after the All-Star break to win their respective divisions. Once in the playoffs, the Tigers scraped out a victory over the up-and-coming Oakland A's in the first round — needing all five games of a best-of-five series to advance. Then things got easier, as Detroit clobbered the aging New York Yankees in a 4-0 sweep of their best-of-seven American League Championship series. The Giants, for their part, have had an amazing, come-from-behind postseason run. In the first round, the Giants dropped the first two games to the Cincinnati Reds before roaring back to win the final three. And in the National League Championship Series, the Giants fell behind the St. Louis Cardinals three games to one before sweeping the final three matchups.
Where and when are the World Series games?
The first two games will be played tonight and tomorrow at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Games 3 and 4 will be in Detroit on Saturday and Sunday. If necessary, Game 5 will be Monday in Detroit, and Games 6 and 7 would be played in San Francisco on Halloween (next Wednesday) and next Thursday, Nov. 1. The Giants have four home games (as opposed to the Tigers' three) because the National League pummeled the American League in July's All-Star game. All the World Series games start at 8 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on Fox.
Who's favored to win?
The Tigers, by a considerable margin. Betting website Bovada "has Detroit as -180 favorites, which means you'd have to risk $180 to win $100 on the Tigers," says Aaron Gleeman at NBC Sports. The Giants, who won the World Series in 2010, certainly shouldn't be counted out, but they're clearly the underdogs, says Tony DeMarco at NBC Sports: "The favored Detroit Tigers are rested, their starting rotation is perfectly aligned, their lineup is filled with power, and their defense is playing better than projected."
Which Detroit players are expected to shine?
The answer is obvious, says Bill Shaikin at The Los Angeles Times: "The Tigers have the best pitcher in baseball, and the best hitter." Let's start with pitching. Justin Verlander won last year's Cy Young and MVP awards, and may very well win this year's Cy Young, too. The hard-throwing starter has been an absolute beast of late, and has only lost once since Aug. 1. He'll get to pitch in Games 1 and 5, and the smart money says he'll win both. On offense, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera became baseball's first Triple Crown winner since 1967 by leading the league in hits, home runs, and runs batted in. Oh, and the Tigers also have slugger Prince Fielder, and five total players with 13 or more homers. The Giants? They have just one player with 13 or more dingers: Buster Posey.
What about the Giants?
Posey is a star. And the Series' comeback story is Giants pitcher Barry Zito, who was removed from the playoff roster in 2010 by Giants manager Bruce Bochy, but has been so instrumental in saving the season for San Francisco this year that he'll be the starting pitcher for Game 1. "From postseason bystander to starting the World Series opener. That's how far Barry Zito has come in two years to resurrect his career," says Janie McCauley of The Associated Press.
Anything else I should know?
If you're not a Journey fan, bring earplugs. During every Giants home game, local fans belt out Journey's "Lights," an ode to San Francisco; during every Tigers home game, local fans sing along with Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," emphasizing the lyric "born and raised in south Detroit."