Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 World Series: Sandoval in the Zone in San Francisco Giants’ Game 1 Win

            In a strange way, the San Francisco Giants shocked the world on Wednesday night.
            They took Game 1 of the World Series, and proved a lot of critics, analysts and experts wrong in the process.
            The storyline centered on the based god Justin Verlander?
            However, Pablo Sandoval was very much existent -- approaching Babe Ruth status with three home runs, two of which were off probable Cy Young winner Verlander.
            The Giants played Wednesday night’s Game 1 exactly how they needed to. No one expected them to win with Verlander on the mound and a week lineup to boot in a pitcher’s ballpark. Yet, San Francisco got the job done 8-3, taking a 1-0 series lead.
            They played without expectations, and it led to a win vs. Verlander -- something that was not supposed to happen.
            Too many storylines to count?
            Tim Lincecum utterly dominated in relief, and Marco Scutaro continued his dominance at the plate with a 2-for-4, two-RBI night
            But we have to think the baseball looked like a beach ball to Sandoval in Game 1. He was swinging with absolute authority, doing things we rarely saw him do during the regular season.
            Sandoval took full advantage of the fastballs thrown, a pitch the Tigers had to think was in their advantage on the Giants No. 3 hitter entering Game 1.
            Verlander hitting 95-98 MPH on the gun, and Sandoval getting the bat around on it?
            Fat chance.
Sandoval going with the outside pitch and not allowing himself to try to pull the ball?
            Get real.
Sandoval staying back on pitches and driving them with authority?
            A rarity.
            Whatever the scouting report said about Sandoval prior to Game 1, throw it out the window. At this point, it no longer matters because it is hard to stop a player of Sandoval’s caliber when he is in the zone.
            Sandoval was in that zone on Wednesday night to the point where we were throwing his name around with the likes Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth.
            While Sandoval will grab the majority of the attention in the aftermath of Game 1, it was hard not to notice Barry Zito slicing and dicing his way through the Tigers’ lineup.
            Had Zito only gone four innings, while holding the absolutely stacked Detroit lineup to less than three runs, it would have been a major success.
            Instead, he threw 5.2 innings and allowed just one run on six hits.
            Better yet, he kept the Tigers’ No. 3, 4, 5 and 6 hitters (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Delmon Young and Jhonny Peralta) at bay.
            Make that 14 straight victories for the Giants when Zito is on the mound, and all the confidence in the world when he presumably starts Game 5.
            The bottom line: The Tigers with Verlander on the mound thought they would be heading into Game 2 with a win. That did not happen, and Detroit is now behind the eight ball where Game 2 becomes arguably a must-win game.

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