Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Albert Pujols, and now, Pablo Sandoval.
Those are the only four players to hit three home runs in a World Series game, a list the San Francisco third baseman joined as the Giants beat the Detroit Tigers 8-3 on Wednesday at AT&T Park to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Click on the photo to see more from Game 1 of the World Series at AT&T Park.
Sandoval was the first to accomplish the feat in his first three at-bats of the World Series. The first two came off defending AL Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander, who hadn’t given up more than four runs in a start since Sept. 8, when he gave up six runs in six innings at the Los Angeles Angels.
“I still can’t believe it,” Sandoval said of his historic night. “That’s part of your dream as a little kid that you can be in the World Series, but I wasn’t thinking of being in this situation with three homers in one game.”
Sandoval’s first-inning home run went to the deepest part of AT&T Park, landing just to the left of Triples Alley in right center field. He went the other way in the third, parking one in the left field bleachers. Sandoval broke his bat on the third one, which landed over the center field wall, and said after the game he has already sent the bat to Cooperstown to be immortalized.
His new bat still carried some life, however, as he added a single in the seventh for good measure.
The offensive show was extra gratifying for Sandoval, who came off the bench for the majority of the 2010 postseason.
“In 2010, I was part of the World Series,” he said. “I didn’t get a chance to play too much. I’m enjoying this World Series. I’m enjoying my moments. You never know what’s going to happen again. You have to enjoy this moment.”
Sandoval’s effort overshadowed Marco Scutaro extending his hitting streak to 11 games, as the second baseman collected a pair of singles, a pair of RBIs and scored two runs fresh off winning the NL Championship Series MVP.
Oh, and by the way, starting pitcher Barry Zito joined the party on offense, shooting a ground ball into left field to score Brandon Belt from second in the third inning. That makes four games in a row in which Giants pitchers have driven in a run. They are the first team to accomplish the feat in postseason history.
Manager Bruce Bochy is not used to seeing games like this from a team that was last in the league in home runs during the regular season, and hit only 31 at home all year.
“We’re not known for our power,” Bochy said. “But it’s nice to get three home runs. He’s been locked in for a while, and the home runs. ... It’s not easy to hit them where he hit them. Just a tremendous night.”
The Giants used two Cy Young award winners on the mound to shut down the Tigers offense. Zito allowed one run on six hits in 5²⁄³ innings, and Tim Lincecum came on in relief, holding the visitors without a baserunner for 2¹⁄³ while striking out five before giving way to the rest of the relief corps in the ninth. The Tigers attempted to rally behind a two-run homer by Johnny Peralta, only to have their night end there.
Verlander once again struggles in World Series
Justin Verlander pawed at the mound with his feet during warmups, looked flabbergasted when his pitching coach came out for a visit and appeared out of sorts from the start.
Once again, nothing went right the for the Detroit Tigers ace in the World Series.
Verlander allowed two of Pablo Sandoval’s record-tying three home runs, an RBI single to fellow pitcher Barry Zito and failed to make it past the fourth inning in an 8-3 loss to the Giants in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night.
With two no-hitters, a Cy Young award and an MVP to his credit, Verlander is one of the most decorated pitchers of his generation. But all that success built on a fastball that hits triple digits on the radar gun and a devastating curveball and changeup hasn’t translated on the big stage of the World Series.
Verlander struggled in two starts as a rookie against St. Louis in 2006 and was even worse against the Giants this time, falling to 0-3 with a 5.14 ERA in the Fall Classic.
He never found a groove against the Giants after taking what seemed to be a surprisingly long bullpen warmup.
He retired the first two batters and got ahead 0-2 to Sandoval before the Panda drove a 95 mph fastball over the wall in right-center to give the Giants the lead. That was just the sixth homer Verlander had ever allowed on an 0-2 pitch, including in last year’s ALCS to Nelson Cruz.
After a 1-2-3 second, Verlander fell off the rails with two outs and nobody on in the third. The rally started off innocently enough when Angel Pagan fouled off three two-strike pitches before hitting a bouncer that hit directly on third base and changed directions, veering past Miguel Cabrera for a quirky double.
NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro fouled off a pair of 98 mph fastballs with two strikes before lining an RBI single up the middle to give the Giants a 2-0 lead.
With a 2-0 count on Sandoval, Jeff Jones came out to the mound and Verlander appeared surprised to see his pitching coach making a visit so early in the game.
Whatever advice was imparted didn’t work as Sandoval drove the next pitch over the left-field fence to make it 4-0, leaving Verlander to mouth “Wow!” as he watched it.
Sandoval became just the fifth player ever to hit two homers in a game off Verlander, who will need to change something before his next start since Sandoval also hit a bases-loaded triple in this year’s All-Star game, the only other time they faced each other.
Zito’s two-out RBI single in the fourth inning provided a fitting capper to a rough night for Verlander, who had been dominant to get the Tigers to the World Series.
Verlander overpowered the opposition in the first two round of the postseason, going 3-0 with an 0.74 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 24 1-3 innings against the big-swinging Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees.
While those teams were strikeout prone, the Giants built their success on putting the ball into play. San Francisco combined that skill with Sandoval’s longballs to lead to Verlander’s shortest outing since also lasting four innings in Game 1 of the ALCS against Texas last year.
-The Associated Press