Ezra Shaw

Pablo Sandoval hits 3 homers, Giants take Game 1

Pablo Sandoval walloped three home runs in the first five innings, and the Giants won Game 1 of the 2012 World Series, winning 8-3.

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Where Justin Verlander went wrong

Short answer: He decided to be a pitcher in the game of baseball.

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Are the Tigers done? History says no

The Giants dominated the Tigers in Game 1. Does this mean Detroit's done for the Series? Hardly.

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Panda's 3 homers? More impressive than you know

We knew we were watching something incredibly special and unlikely in Game 1, when Sandoval hit three home runs against the Tigers. But it's hard to overstate just how unlikely it was.

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Panda-monium

Pablo Sandoval makes history by getting a hit in his first four World Series plate appearances, and hitting three home runs in a game.

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Panda's 3 bombs and Zincecum's pitching unbeatable

In Game 1 of the World Series, Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs and Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum combined for eight tough innings as the Giants topped Justin Verlander and the Tigers, 8-3.

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Jhonny Peralta belts 2-run homer, Tigers down 8-3

In the ninth inning of an 8-1 game, manage Bruce Bochy was playing match-ups. Jose Mijares got Prince Fielder to start the inning, and Bochy brought right-hander George Kontos to face Delmon Young.

Young singled to right on an 0-2 count.

That brought up shortstop Jhonny Peralta, and he drove the ball to dead center. Angel Pagan ranged back, timed his leap and ... it just ticked off his glove and over the fence. And for the first time in Game 1 of the World Series, a bounce went the Tigers' way. The homer cut the Giants' advantage to 8-3.

Kontos snared an Andy Dirks comebacker for the second out, but that's not going to stop Bochy from making pitching changes. An Alex Avila walk chased Kontos, and Bochy went to Jeremy Affeldt to save the five-run lead.

He threw a pitch. The Giants won, 8-3.

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Giants score 2 more, now ahead 8-1 in 8th

The Tigers finally got on the board in the sixth inning, but it was just one run and Tim Lincecum came into the game to dissuade Detroit from getting any closer. After replacing Barry Zito with two outs and two Tigers aboard, Lincecum struck out Jhonny Peralta to end that mini-rally.

In the seventh, Lincecum struck out Avisail García and Alex Avila, then got pinch-hitter Quintin Barry on a grounder. And when Lincecum batted for himself in the bottom of the seventh, it seemed apparent that we'll see him again in the eighth. Which makes you wonder if Bruce Bochy hasn't already decided on a Game 5 plan: Get as many innings as possible out of Zito and his mid-80s fastball, then turn to Lincecum at the first (or second) sign of serious trouble.

In the bottom of the seventh, we saw Jose Valverde on the mound for the first time since the American League Division Series, when he got hurt so badly by the Athletics. But Valverde didn't do anything to assuage his manager's -- let alone Tiger fans' -- concerns, despite all the talk of a recent mechanical adjustment. After striking out Lincecum, who led off the inning, Valverde gave up consecutive line-drive hits to Ángel Pagán, Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval (who did fail to hit his fourth straight home run) and Buster Posey.

Well, Scutaro's was more of a hard grounder and Posey's a limp liner over the second baseman. But Valverde wasn't fooling anybody and got yanked from the game and we probably won't see him again unless the Tigers are way behind. Joaquin Benoit replaced Valverde and struck out two straight Giants to end the frame. But Valverde had already given up two runs, and so heading into the eighth inning it's Giants 8, Tigers 1.

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The Marlins fan at the World Series

Who is the guy in the bright orange Marlins jersey that has been sitting behind the plate during San Francisco Giants home games? Amy K. Nelson, in an exclusive from AT&T Park, met the superfan, and got some answers.

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Tigers on board with Miguel Cabrera RBI

The Tigers have been hitting the ball hard all night against Barry Zito all night, but they've been right at the Giants' fielders. So when that happens, maybe a change in strategy is needed.

Austin Jackson didn't get the memo, and he rifled a double to lead off the top of the sixth inning. He moved to third on a hard-hit Omar Infante line-out to center field. Miguel Cabrera came up, and instead of lining the ball somewhere, he had the right idea. He floated a soft liner out to center field for a single that drove in the first Tigers run of the night.

The next batter, Prince Fielder, ripped a shot out to left field:


Man, what are you doing hitting the ball hard, Prince? That's not how you beat Barry Zito. I mean, it is -- it always is -- but not tonight.

Delmon Young hit a grounder up the middle in the following at-bat, and that chased Zito from the game. Bruce Bochy then brought in newfangled reliever Tim Lincecum, who struck out Jhonny Peralta swinging to end the threat. It's 6-1 Giants through six.

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Panda ties World Series record with 3rd home run

You need to restore some normalcy to a baseball game?

Don't call Alberto Alburquerque.

With Justin Verlander pitching, Pablo Sandoval hit a home run in the first inning, and another in the third.

Verlander was out of the game after four innings. Alburquerque was in. Sandoval came up again in the fifth. He'd never hit three home runs in any game. Only three men in major-league history had ever hit three home runs in one World Series game. Pablo Sandoval hit only seven home runs at AT&T Park all season.

Take your statistics and shove it. Game 1 of the 2012 World Series belongs to Panda ...

Pablooo

Alburquerque didn't have any problems with the other three Giants he faced in the fifth. Which doesn't do the Tigers any good, because they're now trailing 6-0 in a game that everybody thought were supposed to win. And it's suddenly looking like the Giants will never lose another baseball game. At least not this year.

Anyway, it's now 6-0 in the sixth inning. This is crazy.

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Barry Zito (!) gets 2nd RBI of playoffs, lead 5-0

The Giants have a five-run lead after four innings. That is not insurmountable. That is not a sure thing. It's way, way too early to draw any incontrovertible opinions about how this World Series will go. It's way too early to say how this game will go.

But if you're in the market for omens, it's a buyer's market.

With two outs and no one one, Angel Pagan hit a ground ball that bounced off third base, which started a three-run rally. Okay. After the three-contact double from Hunter Pence, that's a little weird, a little ominous. But let's not make a big deal out of it.

Then, after a leadoff single to Prince Fielder, this happened:


That's a double play the hard way. Or, to be fair, a double play the incredibly easy way. Delmon Young didn't run, and it wasn't exactly Mike Trout running from first. And the nascent rally was over as quickly as it started.

Okay, okay. So there was a funny double play. There can't be any other omens and weirdness, right?


That's Zito with an RBI single against Justin Verlander and Delmon Young throwing a lawn dart.

F'n Mayans, man. How did they know?

On the other side, Justin Verlander has thrown 98 pitches through four innings. This isn't going as planned.

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Panda homers again, Giants now ahead 4-0 in 4th

It's starting to reach the point at which we have to wonder if all of the bad luck, or bad karma, or bad pitching that's afflicted Barry Zito for most of the last six years is being balanced now, in the second half of October, 2012.

Zito pitched well against the Cardinals in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, but he needed some pretty good luck -- in the form of fortuitous batted balls, and great plays, and feeble swings -- to carry a shutout in the eighth inning. And now it seems to be happening in Game of the World Series. In the top of the third, Miguel Cabrera -- as you would expect him to do against Barry Zito -- just murdered a pitch.

Cabreradrive

And so ended another enemy rally, as Babe Ruth and Cy Young and the rest of the baseball gods continue to smile upon Barry Zito.

Meanwhile, Justin Verlander retired six straight Giants after Pablo Sandoval drove a high fastball over the center-field fence in the first inning. And it might have been seven straight, but tonight those baseball gods haven't been nearly as kind to him; watch what happened when Ángel Pagán hit a chopper toward third base:

Dbl

Not just toward third base, but off third base and Pagán had himself a double. Surely, though, Verlander would escape the inning. Surely, he could retire Marco Scutaro. Maybe a few months ago. But not this Marco Scutaro, who seemed impervious to Verlander's offerings. He just kept fighting them off, and finally drove Verlander's eighth pitch into center field on a line, with Pagán sprinting home with the Giants' second run.

Surely, though, Verlander could retire Sandoval this time. Except Sandoval drove a 2-and-0, get-it-over fastball the other way, a long way ... and over the left-field wall for a two-run home run. And then Buster Posey drove a single into left field. With the bullpen getting loose (!?), Verlander finally restored some order by retiring Hunter Pence on a grounder to third.

But there had been two outs, and nobody aboard, and Pagán hit a ground ball. And before you knew it, the Giants had scored three runs off the best pitcher on the planet. And somehow it's now Giants 4, Tigers 0 in the fourth inning.

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Zito holding 1-0 lead, Verlander settles down

And by "settles down," I mean that Verlander was all over the place in the first. And by "all over the place," I mean that he threw an 0-2 pitch at Pablo Sandoval's eyeballs, and that somehow turned into a Giants lead. Next time, throw it down the middle, Justin. Sheesh.

Both pitchers look sharp in the early innings of Game 1, although looking sharp means something really, really different for these pitchers. For Zito, it means flopping a slow curve over for strikes, or burying in the dirt when he's ahead in the count, and it means getting his slutter to bust right-handers in on the hands.

For Verlander it means doing everything better than every other living pitcher.

So far, Zito has thrown 30 pitches over the first two innings, and Verlander has thrown 32 pitches. Zito's allowed two runners -- both in the first -- and Verlander has allowed just one, but it went over the center-field fence.

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Panda's homer in 1st inning gives Giants 1-0 lead

As Tim McCarver noted, you just don't hit many 0-and-2 pitches hard against Justin Verlander.

But with two outs in the bottom of the first inning of the first game of the 2012 World Series, that's exactly what Pablo Sandoval did:

Pablohr

There wasn't anybody on base, and it's only one run. But considering that the Tigers were widely expected to beat the Giants 17 to nothing in Game 1, this qualifies as both a statistical and a moral victory for the home team.

In the top of the first, Barry Zito gave up a single and a base hit, but then retired both Prince Fielder and Delmon Young to quash the Tigers' little rally.

The pitch Sandoval hit, by the way, was a) thrown really hard, and b) probably not even in the strike zone. Check the location of the little blue baseball icon:

Screen_shot_2012-10-24_at_5

If Verlander doesn't give up any more runs, the Tigers are still probably going to win this game. But teams that are behind in the second inning do usually lose ... and in the second inning, it's Giants 1, Tigers 0.

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Do Giants have a chance? Ask Madison Bumgarner.

We certainly can't assume that Justin Verlander will beat the Giants in Game 1 of the World Series. But let's assume Justin Verlander beats the Giants. Can they still find a path to victory?

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