Over the course of the final series of the 2012 Major League Baseball postseason, we’ll begin each morning at Getting Blanked with a review of the night before and a preview of what’s to come. We’ll start today with a quick recap of last night’s glorious 8-3 victory for the San Francisco Giants over the Detroit Tigers, which included a three home run night from third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

The Newspapers

This is the cover of this morning’s San Francisco Examiner:

And this is the cover of today’s Detroit Free Press:


Pablo Sandoval’s three home runs on Wednesday night marks only the fourth time that a player has hit three home runs in a single World Series game. Albert Pujols, Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth (twice) are the only other players in MLB history to accomplish the feat. Here is how Sandoval did it.

In the first inning, down 0-2 in the count against Justin Verlander, Sandoval crushed a fastball that was left maybe a bit lower than the Tigers pitcher would have preferred.

In the third inning, Sandoval took two change ups away from Verlander before hammering a well-located fastball into the opposite field seats.

This was Verlander’s reaction after Sandoval somehow managed to not only catch up to his 95 miles per hour fastball on the corner of the plate after seeing two straight change ups, but push it over the wall in left field:

Finally, in the fifth inning, Sandoval fouled off a first-pitch two-seamer from Al Alburquerque, took the next pitch for a ball, and then somehow managed to knock a slider at his knees over the fence yet again.

Two of the three pitches that Sandoval bashed out of the yard, probably wouldn’t be considered the type of pitches that batters usually capitalize on. While the Giants third baseman certainly deserves some credit for powering through the pitches, it also lends some credence, especially considering that it was the thick-bodied Sandoval who accomplished it, that San Francisco is indeed the team of density.

The Secret Of Zito’s Success

It’s difficult to believe that Barry Zito dominated the Detroit lineup while only once throwing a pitch at a velocity that exceeded 86 miles per hour, but in addition to hitting his locations incredibly well after the first inning, the Giants starter mixed his speeds up very well.

However, mixing pitches doesn’t find a whole lot of success without deceiving the batters. Fortunately for the southpaw, his release points were consistent no matter what he was throwing.

I mentioned that Zito was hitting his locations, and this is something that is difficult to tell with different catchers, but Buster Posey is, typically speaking, one of the easier-to-read target setters that I’ve seen. He holds his glove right where he wants the pitch a second before the pitcher even begins his wind up.

 Game Two

The San Francisco Giants send Madison Bumgarner to the mound, while the Detroit Tigers counter with Doug Fister. Bumgarner has struggled so far this postseason with a somewhat reduced velocity.

However, the culprit for his recent failings could have more to do with his inconsistent release points. Just as Zito showed last night how important it is to keep batters on their toes, Bumgarner has been all over the map with his release point during his two postseason starts.

Hopefully, the layoff – he hasn’t pitched in eleven days – will have given him enough time to correct whatever was wrong mechanically with his delivery.

Meanwhile, Doug Fister has been excellent in his two playoff starts, allowing only two earned runs over 13 and a third innings. He’s been used his normal approach against right-handers, pitching his two-seamer low in the zone to get ahead in the count, and then going to his curve ball. However, against left-handers, Fister has been using his breaking and off speed stuff much more than typical.

This could be the result of the Tigers overall approach against the New York Yankees in the ALCS which seemed to mix up pitches against their lefty-heavy lineup as much as possible. It will be interesting to see if that approach differs at all against the Giants lineup.