Before Pablo Sandoval got to Justin Verlander twice and Al Alburquerque once for his first ever three-game game in the World Series opener, eight players in major league history had hit three homers in a postseason game:
Babe Ruth (NYY) – Game 4, 1926 WS – 3-for-3, 4 RBI, 2 BB
Babe Ruth (NYY) – Game 4, 1928 WS – 3-for-5, 3 RBI
Bob Robertson (Pit) – Game 2, 1971 NLCS – 4-for-5, 5 RBI, 2B
Reggie Jackson (NYY) – Game 6, 1977 WS – 3-for-3, 5 RBI, BB
George Brett (KC) – Game 3, 1978 ALCS – 3-for-5, 3 RBI
Adam Kennedy (ANA) – Game 5, 2002 ALCS – 4-for-4, 5 RBI
Adrian Beltre (Tex) – Game 4, 2011 ALDS – 3-for-4, 3 RBI
Albert Pujols (StL) – Game 3, 2011 WS – 5-for-6, 6 RBI
Kennedy may yet rank as the most unlikely of the three-homer games, considering that he’s not a power hitter at all. He’s homered once in his 24 other career postseason games.
However, once factoring in the quality of the competition, Sandoval’s seems just as unlikely. And it’s the most impressive of this whole bunch.
– Including the postseason, Verlander had given up 21 homers in 262 2/3 innings this season or one every 12 2/3 innings. Sandoval hit two in four innings off him tonight.
– Albuquerque has never allowed a homer in 56 2/3 innings in the regular season. He did surrender one to Robinson Cano in the ALDS a year ago.
– No one homers in AT&T Park. The Giants hit 31 and allowed 53 there this year. Sandoval was the first person to hit three homers there since Kevin Elster did it in the park’s inaugural game 12 years ago. Only four players hit two homers in a game there this year, and the lone Giant to do it was Sandoval.
Besides Sandoval, Brett probably had the toughest assignment in getting to three homers; he was facing Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter when he did in 1978. However, it was in a losing cause in the ALCS, so that costs him some points. Jackson’s three-homer game was more crucial, coming in a Game 6 that clinched the 1977 series for the Yankees. Pujols was the one player to hit three homers and still add two more hits.
But Sandoval’s game seems to me to the most impressive of the bunch. To get to those two pitchers in that ballpark in a World Series Game is maybe the highlight of the 2012 season to date.