First Blood is important. Without it, the Rambo sequels would make little to no sense at all. In addition to the American cinematic canon, first blood is important in baseball games. It’s important to score first, and it’s important to win the first game of a series.
Never mind momentum or anything like that. This isn’t an intangible complication. If your goal is to win a baseball game, it’s better to score runs than to allow runs. If your goal is to win the World Series, it’s better to have won games than to have lost games.
Wednesday night’s opening game of the 2012 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants was won in historic fashion by Pablo Sandoval, who became only the fourth player in Major League history to hit three home runs in a single World Series game. He struck first in the game, and the Giants struck first in the series.
Sandoval opened the scoring in the first inning with a home run to center field that went 412 feet. Then, in the third inning, Marco Scutaro got a two-out single up the middle after an eight-pitch at-bat that drove in Angel Pagan from second base. This brought up Sandoval again, who drove a 2-0 fastball to the opposite field for his second home run of the game. With the score already 4-0, Barry Zito (!) drove home Brandon Belt with a two-out single to left field that gave the Giants a five run lead. Sandoval hit his third home run of the night in the fifth inning, this time off of Al Alburquerque to make it 6-0.
The Tigers got one back in the sixth when Miguel Cabrera hit a one-out single off of Zito that scored Austin Jackson. However, in the bottom of the seventh, Jim Leyland called upon Jose Valverde for some mop up duty, but things turned sour quickly. Scutaro collected his second hit of the game, again driving in Pagan, and then, after Sandoval collected his fourth hit of the game, Buster Posey got in on the act, bringing home Scutaro with a single to right. The hit spelled the end of Valverde’s night, and possibly his career as a member of the Detroit Tigers. A ninth inning home run from Johnny Peralta with Delmon Young on base cut the deficit to five runs, but it was far too little and also too late.
In total, San Francisco put up eight runs and an emphatic exclamation point on their Game One victory over Detroit. With a 1-0 series lead, Game Two is scheduled for Thursday night with Madison Bumgarner pitching for the Giants, and the Tigers countering with Doug Fister.
The Game In A Picture (Within A Picture)
The Win Expectancy Graph
The Most Important Play Of The Game
Pablo Sandoval’s second home run of the game, with two out and Marco Scutaro on first base in the third inning increased San Francisco’s win probability added by more than any other play in the game.
Only one other player in all of baseball took a higher percentage of swings at pitches outside of the strike zone this season than Sandoval. It was Delmon Young. Despite Panda’s penchant for swinging at pitches that he ought not to, the Giants third baseman took the first two change ups he saw from Justin Verlander to gain a favorable 2-0 count. Then, Sandoval jumped all over a 95 miles per hour fastball, and drove it over the fence in left field to put San Francisco ahead 3-0.
This is how Sandoval reacted:
This is how Verlander reacted:
The Surprising Comparison Of The Game
The Shamsky Award
Named after Art Shamsky, who single handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.
Both Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera got on base two times on Wednesday night. They were the only two players for the Detroit Tigers to have a positive win probability added, and they both put up a measly two percent.
The Awful Thing The Broadcasters Did
Angel Pagan got to second base off a ball he fisted to third. Joe Buck referred to the hit as Pagan squirting it to third. I almost vomited. Then, Tim McCarver referred to Pablo Sandoval as Pandoval, which admittedly is kind of funny. I’m sure there were worse things, but I just kind of tuned them out after a while.
The Awful Thing The Manager Did
It’s hard to fault a manager whose team so dominantly wins the first game of the World Series, but I have to wonder why Bruce Bochy would go to Tim Lincecum in the sixth inning, and a five run lead. Madison Bumgarner is scheduled to pitch tomorrow, and given his rocky performances so far in the postseason, wouldn’t the Giants be better served holding Lincecum for tomorrow’s game in case he’s needed?
The Things You Won’t Believe
By now, you’ve likely heard that this is the first time that the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants have played each other in the World Series, but did you know that this is also the first time a team from the AL Central has played a team from the NL West.
The home run that Pablo Sandoval hit off of Justin Verlander in the first inning was on an 0-2 pitch. It was the first 0-2 home run that Verlander has given up this season, and only the fourth of his career.
The Giants are the first team in MLB history to have a pitcher drive a runner home in four straight games.
Pablo Sandoval is the fourth player in Major League Baseball history to hit three home runs in a single World Series game. He joins Albert Pujols, Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth (who did it twice) on a rather exclusive list. It’s also only the second three home run game in AT&T Park history, the first time since Kevin Elster did it in the first game ever played at the ballpark.
Marco Scutaro has multiple hits in seven of his last eight games.
Tweets Of The Game
That ball flew farther than a witch in a broom factory
— Sam Miller (@SamMillerBP) October 25, 2012
Gregor Blanco and Delmon Young are playing the same position in this game.
— Giants Nirvana (@GiantsNirvana) October 25, 2012
Your fans really are weird, San Francisco.
— Grey (@spacemnkymafia) October 25, 2012
Imagine you went into a coma in March, woke up today and saw Tim Lincecum warming up to relieve Barry Zito in Game 1 of the World Series.
— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) October 25, 2012
Valverde fixed his mechanical flaw. He now uses belt sander in much safer fashion.
— Bob Timmermann(@bobtimmermann) October 25, 2012
Could be worse. The Cardinals would be up 13-1 and Andy Dirks would be missing
— Matt Sussman (@suss2hyphens) October 25, 2012
Barry Zito hitting his locations, and dare I say, showing command, is kind of pretty to see. Oddly enough, it was the opposite of what Justin Verlander was doing, leaving his fastballs up in the zone.
I wonder how Delmon Young feels after seeing Gregor Blanco make a diving catch in left field to end the top of the third, and again in the top of the sixth.
Certainly there was a good amount of luck involved in Angel Pagan “fisting” the ball of the bag in the third inning, but don’t forget that he stayed alive through a nine-pitch at-bat in order to make it happen.
In the top of the fourth there was a strange double play in which Delmon Young dribbled one in front of the plate, Buster Posey popped right up, got to the ball before it rolled foul, tagged Young and then threw out Prince Fielder who was heading into second base. It was brilliant in the truest sense of the word.
It was pretty much the opposite of Delmon Young’s defected paper airplane throw in the bottom of the fourth inning.
I don’t think very highly of Jose Valverde, but seeing him cry in the dugout after yet another disastrous outing – in mop up duty – was pretty heart rending.
As sad as it was to see Valverde falter, the opposite emotions were elicited by Tim Lincecum’s two and a third innings in which the former Cy Young Award winner attained some of his former glory, striking out five of the seven batters he faced.
Thanks to Sara (without an H) for some of the GIFs from Wednesday night’s game.