SAN FRANCISCO Since being drafted in 1998, Ryan Vogelsong has waited a long time to find out whether pitching an actual game in the World Series matches up with the scenario that has played out countless times in his mind.
"I know I have a vision, and it's a lot like Game 6 (of the National League Championship Series) was the other night here," the Giants right-hander said. "It's going to be intense. It's going to be an intense series, and I know I feed off that intensity, so the more the better."
Vogelsong will get to make the comparison when he starts Game 3 against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on Saturday, as part of the rotation laid out by manager Bruce Bochy on Tuesday.
After Barry Zito starts Game 1, it will be left-hander Madison Bumgarner in Game 2, followed by Vogelsong and right-hander Matt Cain in Game 4.
Tim Lincecum, who started Game 4 of the NLCS for the Giants in St. Louis, is back to the bullpen.
The Giants had moved Bumgarner out of the rotation after he allowed 10 earned runs in eight innings in his first two postseason starts. But Bumgarner used the time off to fix a mechanical issue that was at the root of his struggles, Bochy said.
Lincecum, meanwhile, has allowed one earned run in 8 1/3 innings in the playoffs when pitching in relief, and the Giants feel he may be better served coming out of the bullpen.
"He gives us another weapon there," Bochy said. "He's resilient."
As a team, the Tigers hit .253 during the regular season against left-handed pitching and .275 against right-handers, the latter ranking as the best average in baseball. Bochy, though, said the Giants opening the Series with two left-handers is "just the way it's fallen."
That it will be Vogelsong starting Game 3, and not Cain, is meaningful because it puts Vogelsong in line to start a potential Game 7 if the Series goes to the brink. Had Bochy decided to flip the two right-handers and start Cain on Saturday, Cain still would have been able to pitch on four days' rest.
Vogelsong has a 1.42 ERA in his three playoff starts, all of which the Giants have won, including Game 6 of the NLCS in which he struck out a career-high nine Cardinals in seven innings.
"(Vogelsong) is throwing the ball as well as anybody on the staff, so we just kept it in order," Bochy explained. "If Vogelsong gets the last start, we have no problem with that.
"I know Matt has worked hard; he's got a lot of innings. I didn't think we needed to flip-flop the two, to be honest, the way Vogey is throwing."
The Tigers are slated to counter with ace Justin Verlander in Game 1, followed by Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer, all right-handers. Those four have combined this postseason for a 1.02 ERA in 62 innings while striking out 66 batters.
"I think we match up pretty well," Vogelsong said. "I think it's going to be a good Series for starting pitchers."