Detroit right-hander Justin Verlander matches up with Anthony Reyes and the Cardinals tonight in Game 1 of the Fall Classic, marking the first time two rookies will open the World Series.
After a long rest, Detroit defends their home turf as heavy favorites to make short work of their National League adversary. They're in excellent shape to get off on the right foot. Rookie-of-the-year candidate Justin Verlander (17-9, 3.68 ERA season; 1-0, 5.69 ERA postseason) will be pitching for the first time in 10 days.
The Tigers disposed of the A's to win the American League Championship, and are favored to win this series with equal haste. It’s been a remarkable turnaround for a team that lost an AL-record 119 games just three seasons ago. This is their first World Series appearance since 1984.
After a thrilling Game 7 defeat of New York, St. Louis is back in the Fall Classic for the 17th time in franchise history, and their second appearance in three years. Nevertheless, it’s been a bumpy road for the NL representatives. They won just 83 games this season, second-fewest by any World Series team, and nearly missed the playoffs entirely after losing 28 of their last 50 regular-season games.
The Cardinals hand the ball to rookie Anthony Reyes (5-8, 5.06 ERA season; 0-0, 4.50 ERA post-season). Reyes has the dubious distinction of owning the fewest wins of any Game 1 starter in history.
After tonight, St. Louis will follow with Jeff Weaver, Chris Carpenter and Jeff Suppan. Detroit lines up with Kenny Rogers, Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman.
Chris Duncan will serve as the Cardinal’s designated hitter tonight and bat second.
Fresh off his ALCS MVP honor, former Phillies infielder Placido Polanco will bat third against Scott Rolen and his former team. Polanco, who was drafted by the Cards and played three seasons there, was part of the deal to acquire Rolen from the Phils in 2001. The Phils then dealt Polanco to the Tigers last season for Ugueth Urbina and Ramon Martinez, chosing an infield of Chase Utley and David Bell instead of the eventual MVP-winner.
The Tigers have another would-have-been Phillie in manager Jim Leyland, who was interviewed for the manager’s position after the 2004 season. Leyland announced his candidacy and was granted an interview, but the Phillies hired Charlie Manuel instead.
Tonight's lineup is posted in the comment thread below.