Pablo Sandoval went 4-for-4 with three home runs and Barry Zito yielded just one earned run in 5 2/3 innings as the Giants rocked and rolled to an 8-3 victory over the Tigers in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday evening in San Francisco.
Sandoval smashed a solo shot to right-center field in the bottom of the first inning, a two-run homer to left field in the bottom of the third and another solo bomb to right-center in the bottom of the fifth. He’s just the fourth player to homer three times in a World Series game — joining Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols — and his three-homer performance was only the second such feat in the 12-year history of AT&T Park (regular season games included).
This from a guy who had just 12 regular-season home runs this year and a mediocre .812 career postseason OPS before the night began. Sandoval is now batting .270/.386/.778 in these 2012 playoffs.
The Tigers, meanwhile, couldn’t figure out Zito and had an even tougher time against Tim Lincecum, who struck out five of the seven batters he faced in relief while surrendering no hits and zero walks.
Detroit starter Justin Verlander entered his Game 1 outing boasting a 0.74 ERA in 24-plus innings this postseason, but he was lifted in the top of the fifth inning after giving up five earned runs on six hits.
The Giants will look to go up 2-0 on Thursday night when Madison Bumgarner faces Doug Fister.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.