S.F. Giants vanquish Verlander, beat Tigers 8-3 in game one

Jim Piascik

The San Francisco Giants crushed the Detroit Tigers 8-3 Wednesday night, with Pablo Sandoval supplying plenty of power in the Giants’ dismantling of the Tigers.

Sandoval hit three home runs, joining Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players to do that in a World Series game. Not bad company for the man they call Kung Fu Panda.

Yet, despite Sandoval’s historic night, San Francisco starter Barry Zito outdueling Detroit Tigers starter Justin Verlander in a World Series game is more surprising.

I am still trying to comprehend how that happened.

This was not the way the script was supposed to go. Tigers batters made Zito look like Verlander and Sandoval had Verlander pitching like Zito. If you can follow.

The tone of the game was decided early. In the top of the first, Zito worked his way around two base runners, somehow finding a way to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard.

In the bottom half of the inning, Pablo Sandoval took Verlander deep for his first home run, making it 1-0 Giants.

Sandoval broke the game open with his home runs – two of which came against Verlander – but he would not have gotten the chance if not for the favor of the baseball gods.

It is funny how random events can change the whole complexion of a game. The game was blown open on a random bounce, with the Giants’ Angel Pagan turning an inning-ending groundout into a double after the ball careened off third base.

NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro followed Pagan with a single that gave the Giants a 2-0 lead. Sandoval immediately followed Scutaro’s single with his second home run of the night, a two-run opposite-field blast giving the Giants a 4-0 lead.

The Giants worked Verlander early, forcing him to throw 98 pitches in his four innings. Verlander only allowed more than the five earned runs he let in last night two other times this season, but of course, last night’s game counted a lot more than those regular season games.

On the other side, Zito turned in an effective one-run, 5.2 inning outing. Zito was left off the Giants’ 2010 World Series roster, but lately he has been one of their most reliable starters.

Two-time Cy Young Award winner-turned reliever Tim Lincecum relieved Zito and looked like his old self, striking out five batters and retiring all seven batters he faced.

Winning game one of the World Series is always huge, but especially for San Francisco this year. Detroit expected a win with Verlander on the mound, but the Giants conquered him.

Former Cleveland Indian Jhonny Peralta gave the Tigers some life in the ninth inning, driving a two-run home run to center field. Detroit needs more where that came from, though, if it wants to get back in this series.

The Tigers still have the rest of their strong starting rotation, but they cannot feel good after seeing Verlander look so human. Detroit will send Doug Fister to the mound as it looks to rebound tonight at 8 p.m. against Madison Bumgarner.

Contact Jim Piascik at jpia[email protected].