Thursday, October 25, 2012

World Series Game 1 - Sandoval's 3 HRs beats Verlander & Tigers

When the majority of experts predicted a Detroit series win on the strength of Verlander's dominance and the Tigers' arsenal of sluggers, they could not have foreseen nor would they have believed what played out in Game 1.  Instead of Detroit's triple crown winner (an antiquated honor), Miguel Cabrera, or even highly sought after free agent bat, Prince Fielder, doing the damage, it was Giants' Pablo Sandoval, who had been practically disregarded and unused in the Giants' 2010 postseason title run.  Instead of the Tigers' reigning AL Cy Young winner and the one who's widely regarded as best and hottest pitcher in the world, Justin Verlander mowing down hitters, it was the Giants' Barry Zito who allowed just 1 run.  This is the same Zito who seemed to be 10 years past his prime (2002 AL Cy Young winner) and whose performances had so declined that he was left off the 2010 postseason roster entirely.  But, Verlander gave up 5 runs in 4 innings before being removed.

Zito even pitched in with a RBI single.  Amazingly, this is the 13th consecutive game that SF has won when Zito started, stretching all the way back to early August.  For the highest paid and most criticized player on the roster, this postseason is feeling like a storybook redemption for him.

Another previous Cy Young winner ('08, '09), Tim Lincecum, also made an appearance in this game and probably pitched the best he's had all year with 5 strikeouts in just 2.1 innings of work, retiring 7 straight.  Pagan, Scutaro and Posey also contributed with 2 hits each.

But the biggest story on the night was Pablo Sandoval's record-tying 3 HRs.  Nobody has hit more HRs in a postseason game.  And only 3 others have done it in a World Series - legends Babe Ruth (twice), Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols.  Incredibly, he only had 12 HRs in the regular season but 6 in this postseason.

The first was a 0-2 fastball off Verlander which he deposited center field in the 1st inning.

The second was a 2-0 fastball off Verlander, sent opposite way to left field in the 3rd to extend the lead to 4-0.

The last was a 1-1 slider? off Alburquerque hammered to center to make it 6-0 in the 5th.

So Game 1 defied the odds.  Getting to Verlander defied the odds.  Zito's performance defied the odds.  A 3 HR game from a 12 HR regular season hitter on the league's worst HR hitting team in the league's most difficult park to homer in, defied the odds.

And now, the Giants have a chance.  By my estimation, they had to beat Verlander once out of his minimal 2 starts to even earn that chance.   Now it would be nicer for Bumgarner to get back on track and put us up 2-0 before the 3 game set in Detroit.

They say that winners of Game 1 in the WS have gone on to win it all just 62% of the time.  That's worse than I expected - still practically a coin flip.  But hey, its the first time this postseason we didn't start with a loss.

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