Thursday, October 25, 2012
Sandoval, Giants Blast Tigers
The anticipated pitching duel between two former Cy Young winners never materialized. Justin Verlander had been untouchable in his three postseason starts (all wins) prior to this one, allowing just two runs and ten hits in 24.1 innings while fanning 25. But that dominant hurler was nowhere to be found last evening. The reigning AL MVP labored, needing 98 pitches to get through four innings in which he allowed six hits and five earned runs. Detroit's shaky bullpen failed to stop the bleeding, allowing San Francisco to put the game out of reach when the Giants tacked on three insurance runs in the middle innings.
That proved to be more than enough run support for Barry Zito, making the first World Series start of his 13 year career, as the southpaw outpitched the best pitcher on the planet.You don't need me to tell you that the 2002 AL Cy Young winner has been a massive bust since inking a seven year contract worth $126 million with San Francisco. He became so ineffective that he was left off the postseason roster in 2010, when the Giants won their first World Series since 1954. But he's enjoyed something of a renaissance this year by winning 15 games during the regular season and shutting down the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS. He wasn't quite as sharp last night but managed to hold Detroit to one run over 5.2 innings before giving way to Tim Lincecum. Perhaps Zito isn't beyond redemption after all. Maybe one month can make up for six disappointing seasons.
The star of the night was Pablo Sandoval, who went 4-for-4 and crushed three home runs to pace San Francisco's offensive assault. Kung Fu Panda went yard in his first three at-bats to join Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols (who did it last year) as the only players in baseball history to slug three dingers in a World Series game. The switch-hitting third baseman added a single in the seventh inning to round out his historic performance at the dish, even if his base knock disappointed a raucous home crowd hoping for another long ball. Over the past two weeks Sandoval has done his best Carlos Beltran impression by batting a scorching .439/.455/.951 with six home runs, three doubles, and 13 RBI. It goes without saying that if he sustains that level of production for a few more games, he'll be an easy choice for World Series MVP.
Detroit fell behind early, but missed a prime scoring opportunity in the top of the first. Austin Jackson flew out to kick off the series, but Omar Infante singled and Miguel Cabrera walked to set up a potential big inning. Neither Prince Fielder nor ALCS MVP Delmon Young delivered, and Zito escaped the jam unscathed. The Tigers finally broke through against Zito in the sixth inning, when Cabrera's RBI single plated Jackson. But then Big Time Timmy Jim Lincecum came in out of the 'pen and proceeded to silence Detroit's bats. The two-time NL Cy Young winner recorded seven consecutive outs, five of which came via the strikeout, as the bridge to the ninth inning. Jose Mijares, George Kontos and Jeremy Affeldt each recorded one out to close the game, but not before Jhonny Peralta made some noise by belting a two-run homer off Kontos.
Unfortunately for Detroit, it was too little, too late. Tonight they try to even the series by sending Doug Fister to the hill against Madison Bumgarner.