Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees
It wasn't all about the big bats of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder for the Tigers. Instead it was their excellent starting pitching. Beginning with their ace Justin Verlander. His two starts were both wins and the Game 5 clincher was a complete game shutout. Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez all had ERAs of 2.84 or less in their starts against the Oakland Athletics. Detroit will need more of the same against the vaunted Yankees lineup. The Tigers bullpen has to be used as little as possible as they have been prone to big innings during the year and the Division Series. Austin Jackson and Omar Infante combined to score 10 runs in the Division Series, which helped set up a lot scoring opportunities for them. They'll need a lot more in the ALCS.
While everyone was focused in on Alex Rodriguez's poor performance against the Baltimore Orioles. Curtis Granderson was just as bad. Robinson Cano was even worse with a .091 batting average during all five games. Obviously the Yankees will need all three to bounce back against Detroit. However, New York had a new October hero step up to the plate in Raul Ibanez. His game tying home run in the 9th inning of Game 3 and game winning home run in extra innings of that game helped shift the momentum in the Yankees favor. If he does more of the same in the ALCS the Yankees could be tough to beat in the World Series. New York's pitching starts and ends with C.C. Sabathia. He was worth every penny in the Division Series. The rest of the staff was good. Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte were great in their only starts against Baltimore. The Yankees bullpen was nearly perfect and will have to be again for them to advance against the Tigers.
Tigers in 6 games
St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants
It has been an amazing roller coaster ride for the Cardinals in the last year. They just refuse to lose. Aside from Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse, the rest of the Cardinals starters have to do better. Their bullpen was fantastic in relief, but there is concern of wear and tear after their five game series with the Nationals. Adam Wainwright's 7.88 ERA isn't like him, but to be fair that was because of the onslaught in Game 5, not both of his starts. Mitchell Boggs and Trevor Rosenthal have become the newest stars of an unheard of bullpen. Carlos Beltran is doing what he always does in the postseason; perform well. He batted .444 with 2 home runs and 4 runs batted in. He walked five times and struck out only once. Beltran had help. David Freese batted .421 and Daniel Descalso drove in six runs and was part of that amazing comeback victory in Game 5 of the Division Series. They are the defending champions for a reason.
Just like St. Louis, the San Francisco Giants refuse to lose. They were down 2-0 to the Cincinnati Reds and had to win three straight games in Cincinnati. No problem. Pablo Sandoval and Gregor Blanco kept up their hitting pace from San Francisco into Cincinnati. But the Giants also were helped by the appearance of Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro when the playing field was changed. When they get on the base that helps the middle of their lineup. Buster Posey's grand slam in Game 5 was basically the series clincher for the Giants. He wasn't terrible in the Division Series, he just needed runners on base. If the Giants offense can take advantage of that new found momentum, it will be a good thing for their pitchers. Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner in particular who didn't get much run support in their starts against the Reds. Tim Lincecum being in the bullpen has brought new life to him and the Giants pen. Adding George Kontos' great pitching in his four appearances will only help keep the Giants lead intact to their closer Sergio Romo.
Cardinals in 7 games