SAN FRANCISCO (AP/97.1 The Ticket) — Pablo Sandoval became just the fourth player to hit three home runs in a World Series game, connecting twice against Justin Verlander and once off Al Alburquerque to lead the San Francisco Giants over the Detroit Tigers 8-3 in Wednesday night’s opener.
Sandoval hit a solo home run to right-center in the first, a two-run, opposite-field drive to left in the third and another bases-empty shot into the center-field batter’s eye in the fifth. He joined Babe Ruth (1926 and 1928), Reggie Jackson (1977) and Albert Pujols (2011) as the only players with three-homer games in the Series.
Barry Zito, who like Sandoval watched the 2010 Series opener from the dugout, won by allowing one run and six hits in 5 2-3 innings.
The first inning for the Detroit Tigers started with Austin Jackson flying out to right field. Omar Infante slapped a single to center. Miguel Cabrera stepped up to the plate and Barry Zito threw three straight balls to Cabrera before getting the count to 3-2. Cabrera walked which put runners at 1st and 2nd for Prince Fielder. Fielder flew out to the short stop leaving it up to the ALCS MVP Delmon Young. Young ended up grounding out in a fielder’s choice. Justin Verlander will take the mound for the Tigers.
Justin Verlander didn’t start the second inning the way he had planned. Verlander started the first with getting the lead off man Pagan to ground out. The NLCS MVP Scutaro was up second and was barley thrown out at first by Jhonny Peralta. Pablo Sandoval stepped up and crushed a 0-2 high fastball to center field for a home run and the first run of the game to give the Giants a 1-0 lead. That was the first 0-2 pitch Verlander given up for a home run this season. Verlander ended the inning by throwing Posey a great breaking ball for a called third strike.
The start of the second inning Jhonny Peralta faced Barry Zito in which Zito struck out swinging. Garcia grounded out to the shortstop and Alex Avila swung at the first pitch and ground out to second. It was a quick 1-2-3 inning for Barry Zito.
After a quick inning for Zito, Justin Verlander looked to do the same thing. Verlander got Pence to strike out, Belt flew out to center and Blanco grounded out.
Verlander got just what the Tigers needed.
Well if Justin Verlander thought he would help his own cause and get a hit (career 0-28 before this at-bat,) swung at the first pitch and flew out to the first basemen. That’s two straight outs going back to the second that got out on the first pitch. Austin Jackson stopped that and worked the count and singled to center to give the Tigers another base runner. Omar Infante squared up to bunt and took the first pitch. Infante did not show bunt again this at-bat but did strike out on a called third strike by the first base umpire who said he had gone too far and struck out on an inside fastball. Cabrera stepped up to the plate looking to move Jackson over from first but flied out to the left fielder Blanco who made a nice sliding catch.
In the bottom of the third Brandon Crawford lined out to Austin Jackson. Barry Zito struck out and that’s when the Giants started their rally. Pagan hit a grounder to third bounced off the base into left field. Pagan with a heads up play took second. Marco Scutaro who has been Mr. Giant this postseason stepped up to the plate and slapped a single to center which scored Pagan giving the Giants a 2-0 lead. Verlander then went to a 2-0 count to Pablo Sandoval which drew Jeff Jones out of the dugout to talk to Verlander. Verlander didn’t seem too pleased with the visit from Jones. Doesn’t look like the talk helped as Sandoval hit his second HR; this one to left field and gave the Giants a 4-0 lead. Buster Posey followed that off with a single to left. Verlander got Hunter Pence to ground out to third and get out of the third inning.
The Tigers half of the fourth inning was an uneventful one. Prince Fielder led off the inning with a single to center. Delmon Young then grounded into a double play. Peralta ended the fourth by flying out to the right fielder Pence.
The bottom half of the fourth wasn’t much kinder to Justin Verlander. Belt started off the inning with a walk. Crawford grounded out to Infante and Belt advanced to second. The pitcher Barry Zito at the plate helped out his night on the mound by hitting a single just past the out stretched glove of Miguel Cabrera at third that drove in Belt to give the Giants a 5-0 lead. Verlander battled with Pagan and got him to ground out to Infante. The Giants did their job and most likely knocked Verlander out of the game; he is due up third for the Tigers.
Tigers can’t seem to do anything offensively. In the top half of the fifth Garcia ground out to Crawford for an easy play at first. Avila also grounded out which brought up Justin Verlander’s spot in the lineup. Jim Leyland took Verlander out of the game and pinch hit Danny Worth. Barry Zito made easy work of Worth and struck him out to add to his impressive night on the mound.
Al Alburquerque started the fifth inning for the Tigers to replace Verlander. Alburquerque started the inning with getting Marco Scutaro to ground out. The MVP of the night Pablo Sandoval stepped to the plate for the third time tonight looking for his third home run. Sandoval did exactly that. Hit another home run to center field. Sandoval has never had a 3 home run night until tonight against the Tigers. Sandoval joins Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players to hit three home runs in one World Series game. Sandoval hit two Justin Verlander fastballs for home runs and didn’t shy away from an Alburquerque slider either. What a night for Sandoval. Alburquerque managed to get out of the fifth with a Posey ground out to Miguel Cabrera.
Austin Jackson led off the sixth inning for the Tigers looking to get on base to start a rally for the Tigers who haven’t been able to get at Giants starting pitcher Barry Zito. Jackson got the count to 2-1 before he slapped a standup double down the left field line. Infante steps up to the plate; 1-2 on the night with a single and a strike out. Infante once again showed bunt on the first pitch and took it for a strike. Infante flew out to center giving Austin Jackson the chance to tag up at second and advance to third. The MLB Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera came up to bat looking to drive in the Tigers first run. Cabrera did just that with a single to center to give the Tigers their first run of the game and now trail the Giants 1-0.
Prince Fielder looked to add to the Tigers rally but failed at Blanco robs the Tigers again in left Cabrera stays at first. Delmon Young swung at the first pitch, getting a base hit to center. Barry Zito is facing adversity for the first time tonight with a run in and runners at first and second. Bruce Bochy will take no chance with Jhonny Peralta at bat and will bring in the two time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum.
Lincecum does his job and strikes out Peralta. Zito is pumped in the dugout after that out to end the sixth for the Tigers.
Alburquerque stayed in for the Tigers in the bottom of the sixth and got Brandon Belt to fly out to Delmon Young in left field. The defensive hero for the Giants Gregor Blanco struck out swinging against Alburquerque. Crawford grounded out to Infante for an easy 1-2-3 inning for the Tigers. Jose Valverde has started to warm up for the Tigers and looks like he can get his first action since game one of the ALCS when he gave up four runs in the 9th.
Garcia led off the seventh for the Tigers working the count to 3-2 before eventually striking out. Lincecum threw a nasty slider to get him to swing there, would have been called ball four. Alex Avila who is 0-2 and started over the right handed Gerald Laird also struck out against Lincecum who has now struck out the first three batters he has faced. Quintin Berry pinch hit for Alburquerque and grounded out to second to make Lincecum’s night even easier. Lincecum replacing Barry Zito was the first time Cy Young award winner has relieved another Cy Young award winner since 1983 (Jim Palmer relieved Mike Flanagan.)
Jose Valverde started the seventh for the Tigers facing the Giants Tim Lincecum. Wasn’t the prettiest sequence for Valverde but he did his job and got Lincecum to swing on a 3-2 fastball for the first out. Pagan doubled down the right field line as Garcia was not able to get a clean handle of the ball off the wall in right. Valverde needs to be able to not allow the Giants to be able to add on to their already five run lead if the Tigers have any chance at being able to get back in this game.
Valverde was not able to do that. Marco Scutaro hit a soft ground ball between Carbrera and Peralta for a RBI single. If there was ever a time for a historic four home run game in the World Series it would be now against a struggling Valverde. Sandoval was not able to cash in on the opportunity per say; however he did rip a single over Peralta’s head and advanced Scutaro to third. Buster Posey looked for his first hit of the game and got it. Posey hit a single to right field over Infante’s head to extend the Giants lead to 8-1.
If the Tigers were looking to build Valverde’s confidence it wasn’t done on October 24th, 2012. Valverde gave up 2 runs with only getting one out and leaving runners at first and second for another struggling right hander in Joaquin Benoit. Benoit made things tough for himself after throwing a wild pitch to batter Hunter Pence. Runners at first and second advanced. Benoit was able to strike out Pence on what looked to be a slider for the second out. Benoit was able to get out of the jam in the seventh with a strike out of Blanco. Not before the damage was done with the two runs given up by Valverde.
Tim Lincecum picked up in the eight where he left off in the seventh. He struck out the Tigers leadoff hitter Austin Jackson, Infante to ground out and Miguel Cabrera to strike out as well. A very easy inning for Lincecum as the Tigers has not been able to figure him out at all.
Rick Porcello pitched an easy eighth for himself. Porcello got Blanco to strike out, Crawford to fly out to center and Aubrey Huff who pinch hit for Tim Lincecum to ground out.
The Tigers were only left with the top half of the ninth to try to even it up. Prince Fielder started the inning by grounding out. Delmon Young was able to get a single through the right side of the infield. Jhonny Peralta followed that up with a 2-run HR to knock the Giants lead down to 5 runs. Andy Dirks pinch hit for Garcia and ground out to the pitcher George Kontos. Alex Avila walked and Santiago grounded out for a 8-3 Giants victory.
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