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May 27, 2017

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Well-rested Detroit Tigers to take on well-tested San Francisco Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Detroit Tigers will have had six days off heading into the opening game of the World Series on Wednesday, prompting the eternal question — was that time to rest or time to rust?

While the Tigers completed a four-game sweep of the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series last Thursday, their World Series opponent, the San Francisco Giants, are fresh off winning three straight games to take the National League equivalent.

With only two days' rest since finishing off the St. Louis Cardinals, the Giants may have an edge in match sharpness and history suggests that is more important than rest.

Detroit has cause to fret about the similarity to its last World Series appearance six years ago, when it had a similarly long wait and was beaten by St. Louis.

This year they've stayed busy by working on bunts, playing against their instructional league team and letting ace Justin Verlander pitch to hitters.

"We just tried to come up with something," manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday. "It wasn't like in 2006, where some people would indicate we sat around happy to get there, not doing anything, eating bon-bons."

"That wasn't the case. We ran into bad weather problems in Detroit, so we were really handicapped," the manager said. "So this time we've done some things to try to keep us from being idle for four or five days. I definitely think it affected the last World Series."

Verlander will start Game 1 on Wednesday against Barry Zito, whose pitching performance in Game 5 of the NLCS turned that series around.

"I feel like I haven't played in over two months when you clinch so quick like this and have to wait for the other team," Tigers reliever Jose Valverde said.

Not quite that long.

"What is it, eight months of baseball? What's five days?" Tigers star Prince Fielder asked.

Said Zito: "I guess we can hypothesize for a while on how prepared they are, being that they haven't played these high-intensity games."

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