Barry Zito backed by powerful outing from San Francisco slugger in 8-3 Giants' victory over Detroit.
SAN FRANCISCO — They call him the Kung Fu Panda because he is a big roly-poly happy specimen.
But Pablo Sandoval is a beast with a bat in his hands, as the Tigers and Justin Verlander discovered Wednesday night in Game 1 of the World Series.
Sandoval became only the fourth player to hit three homers in one World Series game as the red-hot Giants sent an October chill through the American League champions with an 8-3 victory at AT&T Park.
Sandoval joined Reggie Jackson, Babe Ruth and Albert Pujols as the only sluggers to hit three homers in one Series game.
Most Read Stories
“We played our last game only two days ago,” Sandoval said. “We’re still hot. We just came here and played our game.”
Verlander, the reigning Cy Young winner so dominant in this postseason, looked uncomfortable from the get-go and constantly pawed at the mound.
As fans filed out singing along with Tony Bennett’s standard “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” the final score raised a nagging question for manager Jim Leyland and his favored Tigers: Did too much rest after a playoff sweep of the Yankees mean too much rust?
Tagged by Sandoval for a solo shot in the first inning, Verlander could only mouth “Wow!” when the Giants star launched a two-run drive in the third that set off another blast of fog horns. Sandoval reprised his power show from this year’s All-Star Game, when his bases-loaded triple highlighted a five-run first inning against Verlander.
And if there was any doubt that Verlander was shaky, the best sign came in the fourth. That’s when pitcher Barry Zito, a career .099 hitter, sliced an RBI single with two outs off the current AL MVP for a 5-0 lead.
The festive crowd stood and applauded when it was announced that Verlander was being pulled for a pinch-hitter in the fifth. Sandoval gave them another reason to get up moments later when he hit a solo homer off reliever Al Alburquerque in the fifth, answering the cheers by waving his batting helmet in a curtain call.
The Tigers seemed out of sorts in their first game following a five-day layoff. That was an issue in 2006, too, when Verlander and his teammates had nearly a week off before getting wiped out by the Cardinals.
“I’m one that’s been around long enough to know that a lot of things happen in this game. This was a big-hyped game with Justin, probably a lot of pressure on him,” Leyland said.
“But I don’t think it had anything to do with the pressure. His fastball command was not good. He got out of sync. He got on fast forward. He just did not pitch well tonight. It’s that simple,” he said.
Pujols homered three times last year, Jackson accomplished the feat in 1977 and Ruth did it in 1926 and again in 1928.
For good measure, Sandoval lined a single his last time up. He donated the bat he used for the first two homers to the Hall of Fame — no need for it anymore, he broke it on the backswing of his second shot.
Left off the 2010 World Series roster by the champion Giants, Zito shut out the Tigers until Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera hit an RBI single in the sixth. The Giants won for the 14th consecutive time with Zito starting.
“Just the opportunity alone was mind-blowing. Me and my wife were dancing around when I heard,” Zito said of getting the Game 1 start. “And then the boys came out swinging and played great defense.”
|Detroit||000 001 002||—||3||8||0|
|San Francisco||103 110 20x||—||8||11||0|
LOB — Detroit 6, San Francisco 4. 2B — A.Jackson (1), Pagan 2 (2). HR — Jh.Peralta (1), off Kontos; Sandoval 2 (2), off Verlander 2; Sandoval (3), off Alburquerque. RBI — Mi.Cabrera (1), Jh.Peralta 2 (2), Scutaro 2 (2), Sandoval 4 (4), Posey (1), Zito (1). Runners left in scoring position — Detroit 2 (D.Young, Jh.Peralta); San Francisco 2 (Belt 2). RISP — Detroit 1 for 5; San Francisco 4 for 6. Runners moved up — Infante, B.Crawford. GIDP — D.Young. DP — San Francisco 1.
|Verlander L, 0-1||4||6||5||5||1||4||11.25|
|Zito W, 1-0||5-2/3||6||1||1||1||3||1.59|
Pitches — Verlander 98, Alburquerque 28, Valverde 18, Benoit 10, Porcello 7, Zito 81, Lincecum 32, Mijares 3, Kontos 17, Affeldt 1. Inherited runners-scored — Benoit 2-0, Lincecum 2-0, Affeldt 1-0. WP — Benoit. Umpires — Home, Gerry Davis; First, Dan Iassogna; Second, Fieldin Culbreth; Third, Brian O’Nora; Right, Joe West; Left, Brian Gorman. T — 3:26. A — 42,855.
Detroit vs. S.F.
(Giants lead series 1-0)
All games on Ch. 13.
|Thurs.||at SF, 5:07 p.m.|
(Fister 10-10) vs. (Bumgarner 16-11)
|Sat.||at DET, 5:07 p.m.|
(Sanchez 4-6) vs. (Vogelsong 14-9)
|Sun.||at DET, 5:15 p.m.|
(Scherzer 16-7) vs. (Cain 16-5)
|*Mon.||at DET, 5:07 p.m.|
|*Oct. 31||at SF, 5:07 p.m.|
|*Nov. 1||at SF, 5:07 p.m.|