10/26/12 2:06 PM ET
Five things to look for as World Series heads east
By Tracy Ringolsby / MLB.com
San Francisco won the first two games, and if the past is any indication, the Giants are in good shape moving forward. Forty-one of the 52 teams that have won the first two games of the World Series have gone on to claim World Series championships, including 14 of the past 15, and each of the past eight.
The Tigers fell in the only other World Series in which they dropped the first two games, but that's been a while. It dates back to the Chicago Cubs' World Series championship in 1908, when they beat the Tigers in five games. The Cubs also won four straight vs. the Tigers the year before after Game 1 was ruled a 3-3 tie after 12 innings.
More recently, Detroit dropped both best-of-seven American League Championships Series in which it lost the first two games. Minnesota knocked the Tigers off in five games in 1987, and Texas took care of business in six games last year.The Giants won the four previous World Series in which they won Games 1 and 2, including two years ago against Texas, when San Francisco won in five games. They also beat the Yankees (four wins and a tie) in 1922 and Washington (4-1) in '33, and swept Cleveland in '54. The Giants beat St. Louis in five games in the 2002 National League Championship Series -- the only time they have won the first two games of a best-of-seven LCS. Managing just fine
Detroit manager Jim Leyland is frequently mentioned in discussions about the best managers in the game. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy rarely gets mentioned. Could Bochy be the best-kept secret in baseball? He has spent his 18-year managerial career with San Diego and San Francisco, is managing in his sixth postseason and seeking his second World Series championship. He has won three NL pennants. Leyland, meanwhile, is in his seventh postseason. He has won one World Series and three NL pennants. Leyland, the dean of active managers, is in his 21st big league season -- three more than Bochy. He leads active managers with 1,676 wins. Bochy is third with 1,454. Dusty Baker, who has managed 19 years, is second among active managers with 1,581 wins. Bochy's career managerial winning percentage is .502. Leyland's winning percentage is .503. Home, sweet home
The Tigers return to the comfort of Comerica Park for Games 3, 4 and -- if needed -- Game 5. Detroit had a regular-season record of 88-74. That matched St. Louis, the second NL Wild Card team, for the worst record among the 10 teams to qualify for the postseason. It equaled the 11th-best record in the Major Leagues. There were three teams in the AL East (New York, Baltimore and Tampa Bay) and three in the AL West (Oakland, Texas and Los Angeles) with better records than the Tigers, who won the AL Central. The Tigers, however, have dominated at home. Not only are they 4-0 at home so far this postseason, but they were 50-31 in the regular season, one win shy of the New York Yankees, who had the best home-field record in baseball. Texas, Oakland, Washington, Cincinnati and St. Louis also were 50-31 at home. The Tigers' pitching staff, in particular, benefited from Comerica Park, where it had a 3.47 ERA -- well below the 4.05 road ERA. The Giants, meanwhile, enjoy hitting on the road. They averaged 5.06 runs per road game during the regular season, and 3.80 runs per game at AT&T Park. Who's on third?
Pablo Sandoval is the Giants' starting third baseman, but the team doesn't normally have the benefit of a designated hitter. One of the things Bochy has to consider with the World Series moving to Detroit is if the club would be best served using Sandoval as the DH to keep his bat in the lineup for the entire game. Sandoval has been walking gingerly, and Bochy has a definite pattern of putting Joaquin Arias at third base in late innings. So far it's worked fine, but there always is the chance of the Tigers making a late-inning comeback and the Giants getting trapped without Sandoval's bat. Arias has come in to the Giants' past five postseason games as a late-inning defensive replacement at third base. He made 35 late-inning appearances at third base during the regular season. And Arias did hit .270 during regular season despite sporadic playing time. If Bochy prefers a left-handed DH because the Tigers will start right-handers, the options are Aubrey Huff, who hit .192 during the regular season, or switch-hitting Hector Sanchez, who hit .280. Sanchez, however, is the backup catcher. If Buster Posey gets hurt, either Sanchez would have to catch -- and the Giants would lose their DH for the rest of the game -- or Sandoval, sore feet and all, would be forced to move from third to behind the plate. Sandoval caught in 176 games in the Minors, and has caught in 14 games in the big leagues, including 12 starts. Has not caught since 2009, when he started three times. Lot of nothing
San Francisco has pitched three shutouts this postseason -- all of them in the past six games -- one shutout shy of the postseason record. The 1905 New York Giants, '98 New York Yankees and 2010 Giants each had four shutouts. Detroit was the Giants' latest victim, losing, 2-0, in Game 2 of the World Series. The Tigers were also blanked at Oakland in Game 3 of the AL Division Series. Detroit was shut out only twice in the 162-game regular season. The Tigers lost, 13-0, to the Angels at Comerica Park July 17, and fell,1-0, at Kansas City on Aug. 29. Giants pitchers had 14 shutouts during the regular season, two behind NL leader Atlanta. The Angels led the AL with 16 shutouts, and Tampa Bay had 15.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.