Justin Verlander did not make it past the fourth inning and a World Series-tying three home runs by "Kung Fu Panda" Pablo Sandoval powered the San Francisco Giants to an 8-3 victory (via sports.yahoo.com) over the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series.
Verlander, who entered the game with an 0.74 ERA and a 3-0 postseason record, was touched for five runs on six hits with four strikeouts in four innings.
Sandoval's power surge was more than enough for the resurgent Barry Zito, who delivered 5.2 innings of one-run, six-hit ball before leaving to a standing ovation at AT&T Park. The loss puts the Tigers in a position they have not experienced this postseason: trailing in a series.
The game got away in the fateful third inning.
With two outs, Angel Pagan's shot towards third base bounced off the bag and past Miguel Cabrera, allowing Pagan to reach second. The white-hot Marco Scutaro then promptly singled to make it 2-0. Sandoval followed with his second home run, an opposite field shot to left that made it 4-0.
From there, it was simply a matter of counting down the outs as the Giants steadily increased their lead.
Detroit's first run came on an RBI single from Miguel Cabrera in the sixth inning. With runners on first and second and two outs, Tim Lincecum struck out Jhonny Peralta, and the Tigers were done. Detroit's last runs came on a ninth-inning two-run homer by Peralta off of George Kontos.
Now down 1-0, Detroit turns to Doug Fister to try and even the series before heading back to Comerica Park, where they are undefeated this postseason. Fister will be opposed by San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner.
Before the series began, I wrote about the five keys to the series. Here is the recap of those (as applicable) to Game 1.
Can Detroit's Other Starters Keep It Going?
This is going to be the big question for the next three games. Verlander was rocked tonight, and now the trio of Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, and Anibal Sanchez have to deliver for Detroit.
Buster, What It Is Right Now?
Buster Posey entered tonight's game hitting all of .178 in the postseason. Although Sandoval's historic night will dominate the headlines, Posey snapped out of his funk with a pair of hits and an RBI.
If Sandoval, Scutaro and Posey are hitting, the Tigers are in deep trouble.
A Stage Fit for a Prince
Prince Fielder had his chances tonight to leave an imprint on the game. With runners on first and second in the first inning, he popped out to shallow left field for the second out. In the sixth, Fielder lined out with a runner on first and one out. On the night, he went 1-for-4, but his leadoff single in the fourth inning is simply not going to be enough.
Which Teams' Role Players Will Deliver?
Detroit's trio of Coke, Dirks and Infante was largely absent as the left-handed Dirks was benched for rookie phenom Avisail Garcia. Infante went 1-for-4 on the night. By contrast, the Giants trio of Brandon Belt, Gregor Blanco and Angel Pagan went 2-for-10 with a walk, two runs scored, and two RBI. Big advantage to the Giants tonight.
Will Justin Verlander Be Cliff Lee 2.0 in the World Series?
I compared this series to the San Francisco-Texas Rangers tilt from 2010. Much like the Giants did to Texas ace Cliff Lee in that Game 1, this 2012 version rocked Justin Verlander tonight. Lee went 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA, losing the first and last game of the series.
Verlander lost his first start in eerily similar fashion. He will get a chance to atone at home, but the momentum is all with the Giants right now.