Oct 24, 2013, 2:12 PM PST
The Detroit Tigers were heavy favorites to beat the San Francisco Giants in the 2012 World Series. That quickly changed when Pablo Sandoval launched three home runs in the first game.
On this day in 2012, Justin Verlander and Barry Zito took the mound in San Francisco for Game 1 of the World Series. It was a completely lopsided matchup on paper. Verlander was the reigning American League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player and Zito’s best years were behind him.
The Tigers’ ace had only allowed two runs while winning all three of his previous starts in the 2012 postseason, but he was pitching on eight days of rest. The Tigers swept the New York Yankees and had to wait to compete in the World Series. Meanwhile, the Giants and St. Louis Cardinals had to battle through a seven-game National League Championship Series.
First home run: Sandoval gave the Giants an early lead with a home run in the first inning. He looked at Verlander’s first offering — a 94 mph fastball that was called a strike. Next, he fouled off an 87 mph changeup. On the third pitch of the at-bat, Verlander threw a high fastball that Sandoval drove over the fence in right-center field.
Situation: First inning off Verlander with two outs and no one on base
Pitch: 95 mph fastball
Pitch location: high
Where it landed: right-center
Result: 1-0 Giants
Second home run: Verlander was being cautious with Sandoval. He started by throwing him two low changeups. The third pitch of the at-bat was a low and away fastball that Sandoval reached for and powered for an opposite field home run.
Situation: Third inning off Justin Verlander with two outs and Marco Scutaro on first base
Pitch: 95 mph fastball
Pitch location: low and away
Where it landed: left field
Result: 4-0 Giants
After Sandoval’s home run, Verlander stood on the mound in disbelief and simply mouthed the word, “Wow.”
Third home run: Verlander was taken out of the game to start the bottom of the fifth inning. Al Alburquerque retired Scutaro before facing Sandoval with one out. Sandoval fouled off a first-pitch fastball, took a pitch, and then clubbed a low slider over the wall in centerfield.
Situation: Fifth inning off Al Albuquerque with one out and no one on base
Pitch: 84 mph slider
Pitch location: low and over the plate
Where it landed: centerfield
Result: 6-0 Giants
Sandoval ended up going 4 for 4 with four RBI and three runs scored in Game 1. His performance that day made him a virtual lock to win the World Series MVP award. He finished the series with a .500 average and the Giants ended up sweeping the Tigers in four games.
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