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August 27, 2014

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Las Vegas’ preseason favorite Detroit Tigers on verge of World Series title

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander throws in the second inning during Game 3 of the American League championship series against the New York Yankees Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, in Detroit.

Wednesday's Game One

  • Starters — Justin Verlander (Det) vs. Barry Zito (SF)
  • Money line — Detroit -164 at San Francisco +154
  • Total — over/under 7
  • Talking Points' Pick — Under 7
  • Numbers from LVH Superbook
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2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers.

The Detroit Tigers will begin their final series of the year in precisely the same situation they started the season six months ago — as favorites to become baseball’s world champions.

Gamblers at the LVH Superbook bet the Tigers down to a 6-to-1 price to win the World Series in the preseason, even with the Philadelphia Phillies and Anaheim Angels and lower than the other 27 teams in the league.

Detroit managed to get through all the pitfalls of Major League Baseball’s grueling regular season and high-variance playoffs to reach the World Series, which starts Wednesday night in San Francisco. Oddsmakers at the Superbook favor the Tigers at a -175 price (risking $1.75 to win $1) over the Giants, which comes back at +155 (risking $1 to win $1.55).

Those odds indicate the Tigers have a 62 percent chance to win their first World Series in 28 years.

They could make history as one of the rare franchises to live up to the preseason hype in Las Vegas. Detroit would come in as only the second team in recent memory to win a championship as the preseason favorite, joining the 2009 New York Yankees.

The Yankees were the last favorite to prevail in the World Series, as they beat the Phillies in six games as a -150 favorite.

Detroit is the biggest favorite since oddsmakers posted the Boston Red Sox at a -230 clip against the Colorado Rockies in 2006. The Red Sox swept the series.

Bettors can take the Tigers to blank the Giants at a price of 8-to-1. Detroit is listed at +350 to win the series in five, six or seven games.

Although the Giants were far from long shots at the beginning of the year with 16-to-1 odds to win the World Series, oddsmakers had basically written them off twice in the last two weeks.

San Francisco was 35-to-1 to win the World Series after dropping the first two games to the Cincinnati Reds in the National League divisional series. The Giants were 18-to-1 just five days ago when they went down 3-1 in the National League Championship Series against the Saint Louis Cardinals.

But they rallied to outscore the Cardinals a combined 20-1 in the final three games. San Francisco’s offense has come alive with two-hitter Marco Scutaro’s .404 on base percentage and three-hitter Pablo Sandoval’s three homeruns and 16 RBI, both postseason highs.

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Matt Cain

Although starting pitchers Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain turned in back-to-back gems to finish off the Cardinals, nine of the Giants 12 playoff games have gone over the total posted in sports books.

Five of the Tigers nine games have gone under, with one push. Their starting pitching has been some of the best in postseason history.

Game One starter Justin Verlander had thrown 23 straight scoreless innings, good for third best in postseason history, before the ninth inning of his last start.

The other three members of the Tigers World Series rotation — Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez —have been just as dominant. They’ve combined for 41 strikeouts in six starts with an ERA of less than one.

Detroit is playing even better than its expectations at the beginning of the year. Its season-spanning status as World Series favorite finally makes sense.

Series pick: Tigers in six

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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