2012 World Series Game 1: Pablo Sandoval Powers San Francisco to Victory

Pablo Sandoval

On paper, game one of the World Series seemed like it should have gone Detroit’s way—and for good reason. But as is often the case, the paper was misleading and the San Francisco Giants went on to win 8-3. Justin Verlander was on the mound against a San Francisco team that had hit .234 in the postseason entering the World Series. It’s easy to see why so many predicted a Detroit win in game one—Verlander’s 2012 postseason stats were the definition of dominance:

Wins Loss Hits Runs Walks SO’s IP WHIP ERA
3 0 11 3 5 27 26.1 0.61 1.03

But Verlander just didn’t have it on Wednesday. If a twinge of anxiety went through the collective stomachs of Detroit fans after Pablo Sandoval crushed a 411 foot home run off Verlander in the first inning, the rest of his performance caused a full-blown panic attack in the hearts of Detroit fans.

Barry Zito only added to the anxiety by pitching a nice, if somewhat flawed, 5.2 innings.

Zito had been no slouch himself entering the Series:

Wins Loss Hits Runs Walks SO’s IP WHIP ERA
1 0 12 2 6 12 13.1 1.35 1.35

The third inning was when things really took a wrong turn for the Tigers. Angel Pagan ended a tough at bat with a fluke two-out double that hit third base and booted out into left field. Instead of a ground out to end the inning, San Francisco went on to score three runs. Red hot Marco Scutaro followed Pagan with a line drive up the middle to give the Giants a 2-0 lead. Sandoval followed with his second  home run of the game to put the Giants on top 4-0. All of the scoring occurred with two outs.

Even worse for the Tigers—by the time the third inning was over, Verlander had thrown 70 pitches. If you believe in the Baseball Gods, they weren’t on Detroit’s side Wednesday night.

The fourth inning was no better for the Tigers. Zito got an RBI of his own with a base hit to left field that drove in Brandon Belt. Verlander would finish the inning but it was his last. His final line: 4 IP, 6 hits, 5 runs, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk and 2 home runs.

Meanwhile, Zito continued to cruise, getting the Tigers 1-2-3 in the fifth.

Al Alburquerque came on in relief for the Tigers in the bottom of the fifth and allowed a home run to Sandoval to give the giants a 6-0 lead. With the home run, Sandoval joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players who have hit three home runs in one game during the World Series. Joe Buck didn’t seem to care.

The Tigers finally got to Zito in the top of the sixth. Austin Jackson doubled, Omar Infante flied out to center and Jackson took third. Miguel Cabrera singled to center driving in Jackson for Detroit’s first run of the game. Delmon Young singled to end Zito’s night.

Zito’s final line: 5.2 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 3 strike outs. Tim Lincecum came on in relief and struck out Jhonny Peralta to end the inning.

Lincecum simply mystified the Tigers. It was a night where the Giants could do no wrong and the Tigers seemed shell shocked at the Verlander bombing.

Jose Valverde ‘pitched’ the seventh for the Tigers in an attempt to prove to Jim Leyland he should regain his role as Detroit’s closer. He didn’t help his cause. Valverde lasted all of 18 pitches while giving up two runs on four hits. Valverde looked lost and confused in the dugout after Leyland finally pulled him.

While the top of the seventh was a nightmare for Detroit pitchers, the bottom of the seventh was a blissful dream for Lincecum. Jackson struck out, Infante grounded out and Cabrera struck out. Lincecum pitched 2.1 innings of shutout relief  and struck out five along the way.

Detroit made things interesting in the ninth. Young singled to right field and Peralta hit a two-run shot to centerfield off of George Kontos. But ‘interesting’ is about as close as this game ever got. Jeremy Affeldt came on in relief for Kontos and shut the Tigers down to end the game.

Game 2 is tomorrow night at 8 p.m.on FOX.

Pitching matchup: Doug Fister vs. Madison Bumgarner

author avatar
Tom Fitzgerald