CHARLOTTE, N.C., October 25, 2012 — It was a huge night for “The Panda” in San Francisco in Game One of the World Series, as Pablo Sandoval pounded out three home runs in his first three times at bats.
By the time Detroit was able to slow the Sandoval surge, the game was no longer in doubt. With the score 7-1 in the bottom of the seventh “The Panda” added a single for a 4 for 4 night with four RBI.
It was reminiscent of Reggie Jackson’s three-homer night for the Yankees in Game Six of the 1977 Series against the Dodgers, but Sandoval’s feat may have been even more dramatic.
With the Giants fresh off a three game comeback series against the Cardinals and facing Tiger ace, Justin Verlander, Sandoval kept the momentum alive by sending a 0-2 pitch into orbit in dead center field. It was the first time this season that Verlander has yielded a 0-2 home run.
Giants starting pitcher, Barry Zito, helped his own cause at the plate with a two-out single in the fifth to up the score to 5-0.
Other standouts for the Giants were Marco Scutaro who continued his torrid hitting since coming the San Francisco at midseason from Colorado.
Defensively, Grego Blanco had two gems in left robbing Miguel Cabrera of a hit in the top of the third and doing the same to Prince Fielder in the top of the sixth. Both were diving catches on low line drives that could have given the Tigers an offensive boost.
But the night belonged to Sandoval who thrilled the already raucous San Francisco crowd with three dingers. The second home run went to the opposite field in left on a hitter’s count of 2-0, while the third four-bagger was almost a carbon copy of the first at more than 400 feet to straightaway center.
Each of the home runs came off Verlander who got a taste of Sandoval’s bat in at the All-Star game in Kansas City in July when the Giants third baseman tripled.
San Francisco put up crooked numbers with a three spot in the third and two more in the seventh. They added single runs in the first, fourth and fifth.
Barry Zito was relieved by Tim Lincecum after working five and two-thirds innings with one walk and three strikeouts while scattering six hits. It was a rare situation where a Cy Young winner relieved another Cy Young winner in a World Series game.
Lincecum was equal to the task throwing nothing but goose eggs, retiring seven straight and not allowing a hit to the powerful Detroit lineup. He struck out five in two and a third innings.
Meanwhile, Zito only threw 83 pitches during his outing, which should allow him to rest his arm more than usual before his next Series start. The victory was Zito’s first ever World Series win.
Only one Tiger hitter had more than one hit in a game dominated from the outset by the Giants. Jhonny Peralta gave Detroit a small element of satisfaction in the ninth with a catchable 2-run homer that barely clearly the wall in center, but that was the biggest noise the Tigers made all night.
As for Sandoval, he joins Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players who have ever hit four home runs in a World Series game.
The second game will put Doug Fister of the Tigers on the mound against Madison Bumgarner for the Giants. For now, the 2012 Series belongs to San Francisco with a 1-0 lead after taking the first game by a score of 8 to 3, and zoos all over the world are cheering for “The Panda.”
Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC. Taylor played professional baseball for four years including two seasons under Hall of Fame manager, Sparky Anderson. He played all 29-innings of the longest continuous professional baseball game in history. He was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte. As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 70 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries.