By: Eric Thomas

I understand that the prevailing wisdom is that the Tigers’ layoff after their sweep of the Yankees led to their lackluster performance in game one of the World Series. I understand it, but I wholeheartedly reject it. Sorry. The Tigers didn’t look rusty; they didn’t look like they were suffering from a long layover. They looked like they got beat by a better team.

You can throw a phone book full of numbers at this. Point out that no team, ever, that swept an AL or NLCS while their opponent went seven has ever won the World Series. Even if that statistic is true, that does not tell the tale. Barry Zito pitched a gem, just like he did a couple of games ago against the Cardinals. The Giants bullpen was purportedly decimated but dominated. Pablo Sandoval hit three home…well you know all of this by now.

The Tigers got beat. There is no rust, jet lag or any other excuse for it. Delmon Young was exactly the liability in the outfield that we thought he was going to be, the only solace being that the game was out of hand by the time it became a factor. Justin Verlander was dramatically off his game. Miggy did a little, but not a lot. Prince Fielder struggled.

The Tigers also found out that their bullpen isn’t just a problem; it might not exist at all. Al Albuquerque, a bright spot for the team, gave up Pandas 3rd HR. Valverde might as well go on the Alcatraz tour during game 2, and skip the flight home for game 3. We didn’t see Phil Coke, and I’m glad we didn’t. He’s fired up and believes in himself, no reason to ruin that.

Is it over? Of course not, but the Tigers need to beat the better team. The Giants, in their “momentum is your next day’s pitcher but at the same time they seem to believe even though they lost Melky and Brian Wilson” mode, look like the far better team. The people who licked their chops a the decimated Giants got punched in the mouth last night. There isn’t a lot of optimism in the D. This series looks a lot like last year’s ALCS, with Marco Scutaro and Panda playing the part of Nelson Cruz and Tim Lincecum playing the part of Ugando. The start of the 2012 World Series is even spookily like the start of the 2006 World Series, the score of that contest was 7-2.

It’s not over, but if you’re starting to feel like this series will be a steep climb, you’re justified in feeling that.


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