Don’t blame the layoff; blame Justin Verlander for Game 1 loss

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Done in by poor fastball location, Justin Verlander got lit up by the Giants in Game 1 of the World Series, surrendering five runs and two Pablo Sandoval homers in four innings. Some facts from the outing:

– It was just the third in three years in which he failed to go five innings. The last was in the 2011 ALCS, when he allowed three runs in four innings in a loss to the Rangers. The only other time in the last three years that he was pulled before five innings was June 22, 2010 against the Mets (5 ER in 2 IP).

– Sandoval’s first homer was the fifth ever allowed by Justin Verlander on an 0-2 pitch, once in 2006 (Tadahito Iguchi), 2007 (Billy Butler), 2010 (Torii Hunter) and 2011 (Shelley Duncan).

– The five runs allowed matched his high total in 26 career starts against NL teams. He also gave up five runs in the aforementioned start against the Mets and in 2009 against the Cardinals.

– His 38-pitch third inning was his high total for any inning this year.

Of course, some will blame the rust for the Tigers’ struggles tonight. It’s an easy narrative, having been carried over from 2006 when they lost the World Series to the Cardinals after a lengthy layoff.

Verlander, though, wasn’t particularly rusty, having made this start on seven days’ rest. That’s just one more day off than he had for Game 1 of the ALDS. The offense wasn’t great, but it did come up with eight hits. One problem was the Tigers got nothing from the bottom of the order, which was also a big reason why the team had a disappointing offense in the regular season.

But the Tigers lost tonight because Verlander couldn’t find a way to keep them in the game. Maybe he deserves the free pass — he’s the biggest reason they’re here in the first place — but it sure would have been nice if he could have figured out a way to grind out a six-inning, three- or four-run outing, both to aid the pen and help the chances of a comeback. He needed some finesse tonight, and he simply didn’t have any.

Giants acquire Michael Reed from Twins

Michael Reed
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The Giants made several roster moves on Saturday, most notably acquiring Twins outfielder Michael Reed in exchange for outfielder John Andreoli and cash considerations. The swap allowed the Twins to clear some space on their 40-man roster for more pitching depth, while the Giants designated lefty reliever Steven Okert for assignment in order to make room for Reed.

Reed, 26, split the majority of his 2018 season at Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett, where he hit a combined .342/.453/.520 with 11 home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 13 chances), and a .972 OPS across 404 plate appearances. He made the most of his brief appearance with the Braves, going 2-for-7 with a pair of base hits and three strikeouts, but still has yet to see more than eight games in the majors in any season to date.

Andreoli, 28, debuted with the Mariners in 2018. While he made a decent showing in Triple-A Tacoma, slashing .287/.397/.401 with three homers and a .798 OPS, he struggled to stay above the Mendoza Line in back-to-back MLB stints with Seattle and Baltimore.

In an additional move on Saturday, the Giants also acquired outfielder Mike Yastrzemski in a trade with the Orioles. Both Reed and Yastrzemski will give the club some much-needed center field depth after they released veteran outfielder Cameron Maybin on Friday.