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.
Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.
Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.
Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.
Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.
It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.
While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.
The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”