SAN FRANCISCO -- The hype surrounding the Detroit Tigers centers on their marquee names -- pitcher Justin Verlander and sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
But the A's will attest that there's more to the American League champs than star power.
They would know, having lost to the Tigers in five games in the A.L. Division Series. Though Verlander handed Oakland two of its three defeats in that series, A's manager Bob Melvin says the Giants have more than him to worry about in the World Series.
"When you talk about teams that are playoff-type teams, they certainly embody that," Melvin said in a phone interview. "They've got front-of-the-rotation guys and a lineup that can beat you all the way through."
The Tigers' playoff rotation of Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer has combined for a 1.02 ERA in the postseason.
Verlander allowed one run over 16 innings against the A's, beating them in Game 1 and the decisive Game 5. But the trio of Fister, Sanchez and Scherzer surrendered just five runs (four earned) in 182/3 innings.
"Fister was as difficult a guy to get the barrel of the bat on as anybody," Melvin said. "Sanchez is pitching great. Everybody they run out there, they feel like they're gonna win with."
But get to the Tigers' bullpen early, and you have a chance.
Detroit's relievers carried a 3.79 ERA in the regular season, which ranked 10th out of 14 A.L. teams. Because of closer Jose Valverde's struggles, Detroit manager Jim Leyland wouldn't even say Tuesday whom he'll turn to in the ninth inning for the World Series.
"When they have (starters) like that, they're not going to give up runs," A's catcher Derek Norris said. "But forcing some walks and getting their pitch count up, that's what I would try to do."
Except a pitcher such as Verlander, the reigning A.L. Cy Young winner and MVP, often gets stronger as the game wears on. His fastball is just as likely to hit 100 mph in the eighth inning as it is the second.
Defensively, Cabrera and Fielder aren't known for their slick work at the corner infield spots, suggesting that a team might have success laying down bunts.
"Easier said than done," Melvin pointed out. "Cabrera comes in (at third) and completely takes it away from you. You saw how far in he was against Coco (Crisp)? You've got a better chance of slapping one past him."
As for taming the Tigers' hitters, it starts with the middle of their order. That includes Cabrera -- the majors' first Triple Crown winner since 1967, Fielder and designated hitter/outfielder Delmon Young, the MVP of the ALCS against the Yankees.
A's rookie Tommy Milone fared well in Game 2 of the ALDS, holding Detroit to one run in six innings. A soft-tossing lefty, he provides a similar look to that of the Giants' Barry Zito, who starts Wednesday.
"I think pitching inside was most important," Milone said. "They're so aggressive. They were swinging at it and not hitting it on the barrel."
But the A's contained Detroit's heart of the order in Game 1, only to see No. 8 hitter Alex Avila homer in a 3-1 Tigers victory.
"You have to know when you can (go after the big hitters)," Norris said. "That's knowing your pitcher, and if you have faith and trust and can afford to gamble."