To the surprise and even disappointment of many, the World Series features two teams that are as unlikely participants in the Fall Classic as they are unfamiliar with the game’s biggest stage.

San Francisco has not been to the World Series since 2002. That was the last time when two teams from West divisions reached the Fall Classic. The Giants have not won a World Series title since 1954. Before this season, the Rangers had never even won a playoff series.

Yet here the Giants and Rangers are as the last two teams standing in baseball as they prepare to open the World Series Wednesday night at 7:55 p.m. ET in San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

Neither team got here by accident. The Rangers, owners of the best offense in the league, dispatched the defending champion New York Yankees. The Giants, owners of the best pitching in the league, dispatched the two-time defending NL champion Phillies.

Both teams won their series over the last two World Series champions, and they did it in six games.

Thanks to the National League snapping its 14-year All-Star Game drought, the series will open in San Francisco. Texas will play host to Games 3, 4 and 5 with San Francisco hosting the rest.

In this series, maybe home field is not exactly an advantage. Both teams have actually played better away from home. The Giants are 4-1 on the road including series-clinching wins at Atlanta and Philadelphia. Texas is 5-1 on the road including a win in a deciding Game 5 in the ALDS against Tampa Bay.

San Francisco and Texas did not meet this season in interleague play, and that is probably a good thing for Texas. The Giants have had their number in interleague meetings since 2000 with the Giants winning 11 of 12 contests, including a three-game San Francisco sweep in 2009.

The Giants lineup looks drastically different now than it did on opening day. One of the midseason acquisitions was Phillies-killer Cody Ross, who was named NLCS MVP. The Rangers leaned heavily on an offseason acquisition too—Cliff Lee.

A major storyline in this series is Texas catcher Bengie Molina. The Giants traded Molina to Texas in July. The move was a major coup for Texas to land the veteran, but it also allowed San Francisco to call up catcher Buster Posey.

The rookie catcher has been sensational in the postseason (.314 batting average), but Molina has been just as important for what he does behind the plate and at the plate (.333 batting average, 7 RBI in the playoffs).


Rangers vs. Giants World Series Pitching Matchups

Cliff Lee (LHP 12-9, 3.18 ERA) vs. Tim Lincecum (RHP 16-10, 3.43 ERA)

In the Year of the Pitcher is it any surprise that Game 1 pits the best the game has to offer in Lee and Lincecum. Lee is 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA in these playoffs, and Lincecum is 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA. Lee is fresh for Game 1 thanks to the Rangers closing out the Yankees in Game 6.

Lincecum will be prepared, too, even after being brought in for the eighth inning of San Francisco’s Game 6 clincher over the Phillies.

After Lincecum the Giants will probably go with Matt Cain (1-0 with 13 2/3 scoreless innings in the playoffs) and Jonathan Sanchez (0-1, 2.02 ERA).

Madison Bumgarner (1-0, 4.22 ERA) will likely be used in long relief, and closer Brian Wilson has saved four games and won one this postseason without allowing an earned run.

In the Texas rotation there is a considerable drop off after Lee, but Colby Lewis (2-0, 1.45 ERA) has been impressive in 18 innings of work in the playoff.


Rangers vs. Giants World Series Odds

The Rangers are slight favorites to win their first ever World Series. They are listed at -135 to win the best-of-seven series while San Francisco is priced at +115. MLB World Series odds are courtesy of BetUS.


Rangers vs. Giants Betting Trends

Rangers are 10-1 in their last 11 games against the National League
Rangers are 8-1 in their last nine road games
Giants are 7-0 in their last seven games following an off day
Giants are 5-1 in their last six games as a home underdog
‘Under’ is 6-1 in the last seven meetings in San Francisco
San Francisco is 11-1 in the last 12 meetings
Rangers are 0-9 in last nine games in San Francisco


Rangers vs. Giants World Series Picks and Baseball Predictions

Both teams reached the World Series entirely different ways. The Rangers did it with hitting, and the Giants did it with pitching. Their paths to the World Series were different, as well.

San Francisco was locked in nail-biter after nail-biter; it had to win three games in the NLCS by exactly one run. The Rangers played only one close game in the ALCS, and the final five games in the series were decided by five or more runs.

Things are expected to be decidedly closer in this series, and that favors San Francisco. The Texas bullpen has only been needed to save one game all postseason.

In the Year of Pitcher it is only fitting the team with the best pitching, the San Francisco Giants, will be the ones left standing. Look for the Giants to win in six games.

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