2012 World Series – San Francisco Giants 8 – Detroit Tigers 3
If you were to tell me that Barry Zito would be starting game 1 of the World Series against Justin Verlander and say that he was going to out duel him on the mound I would say A, Stop Taking Drugs it’s bad for your brain and B, when can I drop you off at the infirmary because obviously you have some sort of head trauma.
But that exact scenario played out last night with Barry “Rally” Zito going out and throwing 5 2/3 innings and spreading out 6 hits and 1 ER in his first World Series appearance. Zito pitched exactly how Giants fans were hoping for by getting out of trouble and keeping the Tigers offense on skates all night. I actually came into the series thinking that maybe the Giants should have went with Bumgarner to start the series. Thinking that Zito’s lower Velo might just give the Tigers some acclamation time in the batter’s box since they had been off for so long after sweeping the Yankees. But Zito came out and worked off of his mid 80′s heat to establish his off speed pitches and it worked to perfection. He had Tigers hitters out on their front foots and rolling over on a lot of pitches by taking advantage of their aggressiveness after the long lay off. The only hitter who seemed immune to the Zito gameplan was Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera, who constantly looked for his pitch and did not go fishing on the outside corners when Zito would try and paint the black. It was all for not because it seemed that everyone else in the Tigers line-up had the exact opposite approach of Cabrera.
Meanwhile in the other dugout, Justin Verlander was reverting back to human form by throwing a measly 4 innings, allowing 5 ER, 6 Hits with 2 of those hits being Homerun’s to Pablo Sandoval. If there was thing that gave Giants fans the creeps in October it was the fact that they had to face Verlander. But after last night, I think both the fan base and team just got a lot more confident about their chances of taking this series from Detroit and maybe even ending it faster than anyone would have imagined. Now that Verlander is out of the way, the Giants need to continue to grind out at bats and continue putting crooked numbers up on the score board if they want to keep riding this wave of momentum. If you’re a Giants fan, you know how finicky the offense can be at times and can go from feast to famine in under a game if the team doesn’t remain focused.
The other big story of the night was Pablo Sandoval going yard 3 times and going 4 for 4 with 4 RBI’s. Of all the people to have Verlander’s number on the Giants, I would venture to guess that not a lot of fans thought it would be Pablo. Especially in the first at bat, Sandoval seemed locked in on Verlander and despite the fact that he was thrown a 95 mph fastball up in the zone, he hit it like it was a 60 mph BP fastball. In watching the AB again, Sandoval recognized the pitch super early or at least guessed right that Verlander would try and get him out on the high fastball which Sandoval has been known to chase a time or two and just crushed it. There was no hesitation and Pablo’s swing just went into full muscle memory react mode. Now it may have helped that Verlander was not getting the UBER-generous strike zone that he got both in the Oakland series and New York which allowed Giants hitters to be a lot more selective in their AB’s and not have to go out and chase Verlander strikes.
If you were a Giants fan last night, it was exactly the type of game that you wanted in order to take game 1. Pitching, Offense, and Defense were all there last night at AT&T but can the Giants do it again? That is the question I have. Can they keep this momentum from the St. Louis series rolling or are they in for a let down tonight because of all the energy they have been using? Remember that all Detroit has to do is win 1 on the road and get back to Detroit and that a World Series is not won in one game even though I’m sure a lot of Giants fans would have liked it to be last night.
So here are some keys for tonight’s game that both Giants and Tigers fans should be watching for.
- The Tigers need to make Madison Bumgarner work if they have any chance of beating him tonight. Sure Bumgarner hasn’t been great this post season but that doesn’t mean a good start tonight can’t propel him right out of his post season pitching funk. The Tigers hitters should be taking Cabrera’s approach up there and seeing as many pitches as possible as opposed to swinging at the first or second pitch. If they can get Bumgarner’s pitch count up high early it may bode well for them in Detroit.
- Giants need to do exactly what they did last night again. Wear the same socks, shirts, jock, whatever it was they did the day before do it again. They won’t get a respite in terms of velocity with Doug Fister tonight but that might be just what the doctor ordered. I’m still waiting for Buster Posey to show up but if Sandoval keeps mashing, he might not even have to make an appearance.
- Finally the Giants need to press Detroit’s defense into making plays especially if they are going to roll out Delmon Young in Left.
That’s pretty much all I have to say about that.
So until tonight, worst of luck to both teams.
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