I really hadn't planned on doing game-by-game commentary on the World Series (and I still don't), but a few thoughts are oozing out of my perfervid brain this morning. . .
First, I feel like I should apologize to my Giant-fan friends - that was not the real Justin Verlander you saw last night. I think it's safe to say that a week off didn't do happy things for his sharpness. Truthfully, though, even The Best Pitcher in Baseball has his off-nights; it's just that Game 1 of the World Series is a god-awful time to have one. His record this season was 17-8. Sometimes, his hitters didn't hit behind him; sometimes his bullpen left him with a no-decision in a game he should have won. But he did have a couple games this year (unlike 2011) where he got rocked around a bit. I'm not old enough, though, to remember the last time he left after four innings. He has occasionally been prone to getting 'over-geeked' and overthrowing when things go against him. I think that Pagan's freakish little double with two out in the third flustered him, just a bit (and Scutaro's single was just the dictionary definition of 'clutch'). Then he started trying to throw the ball through the wall, and when he does that, it never goes well for him. The fourth inning, he was all over the place, and when Zito got the RBI single. . . well, you just throw your hands up and realize it's not gonna be your night. . .
And Pablo Sandoval. . . what can I say? Did somebody give him an injection of blood from Babe Freakin' Ruth? This guy hit 12 homers this year? With 63 RBIs? No freakin' way! And his second homer off Verlander was a low-and-away fastball; not exactly a fat pitch. So now, including the All-Star game, Sandoval's batting line against The Best Pitcher in Baseball is - three plate appearances, two homers and a triple, six RBI. That's a slugging percentage of 3.667. I'm sure even Sandy Koufax had guys who were inexplicably hard for him to get out, but that's ridiculous. I can only echo Verlander himself and say, "Wow!"
But then, it's only one game. And my Tigers made a whole season out of grinding their way back out of a hole of their own digging. I'm sure it's already forgotten, and their minds are on tonight's game (at least, they'd better be). I was a little annoyed at the way so many of the national commentators were saying that it was all over if the Giants beat Verlander in Game 1. It's not like our other starters are dogmeat; I can believe that they might not exactly be household names around the National League, but Fister, Sanchez and Scherzer are pretty darn good in their own right. So I'm not remotely conceding defeat.
Besides, I think the Giants are falling into their own trap, jumping out to an early lead in the Series. They're never gonna get enough elimination games for themselves if they keep playing like this. . .