Jason O. Watson
Everything that could go wrong for the Tigers, did. Pablo Sandoval channeled his inner Ruth, Jackson and Pujols, tying a single game record by hitting 3 home runs to lead the Giants over an ineffective Justin Verlander in game 1 of the World Series.
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The reclamation of Barry Zito's reputation continued with a game 1 victory, flummoxing the Tigers with off speed pitches. He allowed just 1 run and 6 hits in 5 2/3 innings, and helped his cause with an RBI single. It was a very disappointing night for the consensus best pitcher in baseball, Justin Verlander. The Tigers' ace was well off his game, knocked out of the box after 4 innings, 5 runs and 6 hits.
Sandoval was the hitting star of the night with his 3 home runs, a single and 4 RBI. The hot hitting Marco Scutaro added a pair of RBI singles as well. The Tigers could only muster a Miguel Cabrera had an RBI single and a 9th inning Jhonny Peralta 2 run home run.
I have to admit this was one of the strangest games I've ever witnessed. Why the weirdness had to be part of a Tigers World Series loss, only the Baseball Gods know.
The first pitch of the World Series is a ball to Austin Jackson. Barry Zito's fourth pitch tho Jackson ends up as a can of corn to Hunter Pence. Omar Infante has the first hit of the series, singling to center.
Miguel Cabrera worked the count, and the Triple Crown winner walked on a 3-2 pitch. But Prince Fielder, possibly a little too excited, jumped all over Zito's first pitch breaking ball and popped up to short. Delmon Young being Delmon Young, bounced to 3rd base, Kung Fu Panda Sandoval getting the force at 2nd for the first squander of the series.
Bottom of 1, Angel Pagan leads off against Justin Verlander. Looking over-matched, Pagan grounds weakly to Fielder, 3-1. Verlander breaks Marco Scutero's bat, Jhonny Peeralta charges the slow roller and nips Scutaro, thanks to Fielder's stretch.
Pablo Sandoval channels his All-Star game performance and drills an 0-2 shoulder high fastball over the wall in center. Once again a 1st inning home run bites Verlander on the ass, waking up the San Francisco crowd as the Giants take a 1-0 lead. Keep in mind that ball is a double at best at Comerica, but dead center is a hair over 400 at AT&T Park.
The inning ends as Buster Posey stares at a wicked breaking ball for strike 3. Regardless, the Tigers are in a 1-0 hole.
Zito keeps throwing junk out of the zone, the Tigers keep hacking away to little return, going down in order. Peralta strikes out, Avisail Garcia and Alex Avila ground out to quickly end the inning.
Bottom of the 2nd, against lead off man Hunter Pence, Verlander uses the Delmon Young gambit against him. Feeding him breaking balls low and away. Pence goes down swinging. Jackson gets a late break, but runs down Brandon Belt's flair for the 2nd out. Verlander sets the Gaints down in order when Gregor Blanco grounds to Infante.
Leading off the 3rd, Verlander continues the parade of first pitch swingers and quickly pops out to Belt. God damn it, I hate the lack of a DH. Verlander needs to take his hitting lessons from Cabrera instead of Young.
Jackson has the second hit of the game for the Tigers, bouncing a single up the middle. Infante made Zito work (as much as a junk balling lefty with a 80 MPH fastball can actually "work"), but struck out trying hold up on a looping breaking ball.
Cabrera hits a Zito pitch on the screws, but Blanco makes a diving catch on the sinking liner to end the inning. It was turning into one of those games...
Verlander was Verlander in the bottom of the 3rd...for 2 batters. Brandon Crawford hit the ball hard, but right at Jackson. Zito was Verlander's 3rd strikeout.
Then some God awful luck kicked in.
Pagan was as lucky as lucky gets, his 1 hop high chop hit the 3rd base bag, caroming into short left for a cheap double.
The table set for the smoking hot Scutero, he lined a 3-2 Verlander curve into center (after it appeared Verlander got squeezed by home plate ump Gerry Davis). If the could have been a play at the plate, it wasn't going to happen as Jackson overran the ball, Pagan scoring easily.
Falling behind Panda, Jeff Jones visited a visibly pissed Verlander. Whatever Jones said, it was the wrong thing. Sandoval took Verlander the other way, pounding a 2 run home run to left.
Cue Tigers fan base imploding.
Posey singled, but Verlander got out of the inning on a Pence ground ball. After some rotten luck (and to the Giants' credit, actually capitalizing on the break), the Giants had a stunning 4-0 lead.
Fielder led off the 4th with a single.Then the night got even weirder.
Young chopped at a Zito pitch, which resulted in the ball bouncing fair and straight into Posey's glove. He tagged Young before he realized what had happened, then threw out Fielder at 2nd, Scutaro laying on the tag. Fielder had taken off thinking it was your typical ground ball. Instead it was your atypical 2-4 double play.
Peralta ended as frustrating of a sequence as it gets by flying out to deep right center.
Did I say as frustrating as it gets? I was wrong.
A flustered Verlander walked Belt. He advanced to 2nd on a ground ball. With down down and Zito at the plate, you would think the inning was over. But Zito, who must have signed a deal with the devil, singled past a diving Cabrera for the Giant's 5th run of the game. For comedy relief, Young's throw traveled about 20 feet straight into the turf and rolled to Avila. A facepalm worthy play, all the way around.
Danny Worth pinch hit for the Tiger's ace in the top of the 5th. Of course, the Tigers went down in order, including Worth striking out, the crowd going bat-sh*t insane for a guy they wanted to run out of town for the past 6 seasons.
Al Alburquerque took over for Verlander in the 5th. Scutaro grounded out, but the Panda continued having the game of his life. After Alburquerque bounced a pitch to the plate, the next pitch Sandoval deposited over the center field wall, his 3rd home run of the night. Make it 6-0 Giants.
The Tigers' offense finally got to the soft tossing Zito in the 6th. Jackson led off with a double. He advanced to 3rd on a fly ball off the bat of Infante and scored on Cabrera's single. After Fielder's scorched sinking line drive was picked by a diving Blanco (it's was damn near instant replay of the Cabrera at bat in the 3rd) and Young singled to center, Zito was pulled to a hero's welcome.
With 2 down and Peralta at the plate, the exiled to the bullpen Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum took over. He struck out Peralta to end the mini-rally. The 1 run was far too little, far too late.
Alburquerque remained on the mound for the bottom of the 6th and shocker of shockers (at least for tonight) had an uneventful 1-2-3 inning. There was a Jose Valverde sighting during the 6th, the Big Potato warming up to enter the game in the next inning. No better time than down 5 runs on the road to test Papa Grande.
The right-handed Lincecum still on the mound, Jim Leyland elected to not pinch hit for Garcia. The at bat ended as expected, Garcia striking out on an out of the zone breaking ball.
The bottom of the 7th featured a battle of exiled pitchers. Lincecum led off against Valverde. The Big Potato threw a full count fastball past Lincecum for his first out in quite some time.
That was the last positive thing Valverde did in his short stint on the mound.
Valverde threw his money pitch to Pagan, ta 0-2 split-finger fastball. Pagan lined it into the right field corner for a 2 base hit. Scutero slammed an 0-2 fastball to left for an RBI single. Panda followed with a hard hit single to center for his 4th hit of the game, Scutero scooting to 3rd.. Posey looped an RBI single to right, the Giants taking an 8 run lead.
Well, now we know why Valverde didn't pitch late in game 4 of the ALCS.
Leyland had seen more than enough,and quickly pulled a now mashed potato. Sad to say that may be the last time we ever see Jose Valverde pitch for the Tigers. I honestly don't see how he can take the mound in any way, at any time during the remainder of the World Series.
Another troubled bullpen arm, Joaquin Benoit, took over. Despite a wild pitch moving Panda and Posey into scoring position, Benoit was as solid as we've seen him in some time, striking out Belt and Pence to mercifully end the inning.
Lincecum continued the parade of Tigers strikeouts in the 8th, getting Jackson and Cabrera as part of a 1-2-3 inning.
Bottom of 8, another starter now in the pen, Rick Porcello, took over for the Tigers. He struck out Blanco. Crawford his a line drive to center, but a charging Jackson made a nice running catch. (The hated in Detroit) Aubrey Huff pinch hit for Lincecum, Cabrera robbing him of extra bases with a diving grab, then easily throwing him out. It was a 1-2-3 inning the hard way.
Top of 9, the Tigers down to their last 3 outs, Jose Mijares took over Lincecum. The LOOGY set down Fielder on a ground ball. Only 2 outs needed to close out the game, the Giants brought in George Kontos to face Young and Peralta.
Young singled, Peralta homered to center, just clearing both the wall and Pagan's glove, making the score a slightly more respectable 8-3.
Andy Dirks pinch hit for Garcia, grounded out 4-3 for the 2nd out. Alex Avila kept the game alive and sent Kontos to the showers by drawing a walk.
Well, that game blew, sucked and...well, it was a night full of unmentionable words.
Let's keep it in perspective. It was only 1 game. A brutal game, an ugly game, a game we all want to forget, but it was just 1 game. And that 1 game doesn't a World Series victor make.
So what if Barry Zito pitched like a 1987 vintage Frank Tanana and the Justin Verlander looked like the rookie who was rocked in the 2006 World Series instead of the reigning Cy Young winner Just because you lose game 1 doesn't make a game 2 loss fait accompli. .
Far from it.
In game 1 of the 1968 World Series, in what was supposed to be a match up of the 2 best pitchers in baseball, only one was on his game. The Tigers' 31 game winner, Denny McClain, was pulled after 5 innings. The Cardinals' Bob Gibson shut out the Tigers 4-0, and set a World Series record with 17 strikeouts. It doesn't get any more dominant than that.
As bad as that Tigers team looked, it was only 1 loss. We all know what happened - The Tigers roared back to win the 1968 World Series in 7 games.
Keep in mind what Jim Leyland said after the game, "Tomorrow's another day."
A loss is a loss, doesn't matter if it was a blow out or a walk off. We've seen time and time again this Tigers team bounce back from adversity. Hell, this loss was nothing compared to game 4 of the ALDS. Leyland had the same "Tomorrow's another day" attitude after that gut-wrencher and the Tigers bounced back just fine.
If this team can recover so quickly from a nightmare 9th inning in game 1 of the ALCS to come back and win the game, I'm sure this team can move on from this loss and still get the split they need.
One more thing...
For years Barry Zito was a pariah in San Francisco, the busts of all busts, a punchline to a bad joke who would have been run out of town long ago if not for an untradeable contract. Now he's a post season hero. Giants fans who once cursed him are now chanting Zito's name.
That's why I stopped trying to figure out baseball a long, long time ago.
Bullets are brought to you by the Joe Louis fist.
- During the always too long pregame, Billy Crystal lectured us on baseball. FOX is trying to lock in the over 50 demo...wait, I'm part of the over 50 demo! Damn, I'm old.
- The pregame was also full of music from The Who. (Feel free to make a CSI joke) FOX must have gotten a volume deal on The Who music rights, or the Rolling Stones' tunes were too expensive.
- Joe Buck: "The Triple Crown categories are batting average, home runs and RBI." Good info.
- As Justin Verlander prepared to throw his first pitch, "Eye of the Tiger" was being played over the stadium PA..
- Via Henry Schulman of SFGate.com: Only hitters ever to hit 0-2 HRs off Verlander: Tad Iguchi ('06), Billy Butler ('09), Torii Hunter ('10), Shelley Duncan ('11), Pandoval.
- Verlander's 1st inning strikeout of Buster Posey was his 26th of the post season, a new franchise record.
- 4 innings into the game, the early leader in the World Series MVP voting was a Panda, followed by the 3rd base bag. It was one of those nights, alright.
- Going by the bottom of the 3rd and top of the 4th, apparently the entire Tigers team walk under a ladder, broke a mirror and stepped on a crack. The on-field action could not have been any weirder.
- The World Series 3 home run club: Babe Ruth (1926 and 1928), Reggie Jackson (1977), Albert Pujols (2011) and Kung Fu Panda. Which one of these doesn't belong?
- Sandoval is also the first player to homer in his first 3 plate appearances of a World Series game.
- Jose Valverde made his first appearance since the infamous 9th inning in game 1 of the ALCS. The Tigers needed to find out if they could use Valverde in a high leverage situation. Turns out they can't use him in any situation. It's a sad way to end what truly was a very successful stint as the Tigers' closer.
- Valverde in his 3 outings (game 4 ALDS, game 1 ALCS, Game 1 WS): 1 1/3 innings, 11 hits, 9 earned runs. Not how you want to end the walk year of your contract. Scott Boras has his work cut out for him in finding Valverde a new gig.
- When Jim Leyland was asked about the Giants' momentum, his reply was a given: "Momentum is your next days starting pitcher."
- More from Leyland: "I'm not going to get too excited.:" "We just got beat. " "I've been around long enough to know a lot of things happen in this game." "I want to give the Giants' hitters credit, I'm not going to take anything away from them."
- Leyland sums it up: "When you use 5 pitchers in a game Justin Verlander starts, that's not good tonic."
- For those of you ready to panic, this is via Dave Hogg of the AP: "Cubs 3, Tigers 0 in 1935. Cubs 9, Tigers 0 in 1945. Cardinals 4, Tigers 0 in 1968. Know what those all have in common? Those are the scores of Games 1 in the World Series … Tigers won all three times."
We should all be as calm, cool and collected as the big man.
The mainstream media says San Francisco is nothing but young techie hipsters! The mainstream media lies!
This was the bounce which apparently broke Justin Verlander.
Austin Jackson: 2 hits and a run led what little offense the Tigers could muster.
Joaquin Benoit: The only reliever the Giants couldn't touch, striking out both batters he faced.
Jhonny Peralta: A garbage time 2 run bomb wasn't enough to counter 3 consecutive homers by Sandoval.
Delmon Young: A pair of hits, but I can't add him to the PotG voting because of that ridiculous throw.
Justin Verlander: For whatever reason, the ace just didn't have it. Let alone Verlander couldn't get Sandoval out. Not that any Tigers pitcher did, but they aren't Justin Verlander, either.
Jose Valverde: Jim Leyland won't throw Valverde under the bus. So Valverde dived under it himself.
The Tigers' offense: Soft tossing lefties just eat the Tigers up, Barry Zito was no different. The Tigers made Zito look like a better Bruce "Cy" Chen.
ALCS GAME 4 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Max Scherzer took a no-hitter into the 6th inning and was the winning pitcher in the championship clincher. More than enough reason for one of the most well-known people with heterochromia iridum to win BYB's PotG vote.
World Series game 1 PotG
Austin Jackson (89 votes)
Joaquin Benoit (13 votes)
Jhonny Peralta (52 votes)
154 total votes