Score and situation: Paced by Pablo Sandoval's historic performance, the San Francisco Giants struck first off Justin Verlander and struck often on their way to an overpowering 8-3 win over the Detroit Tigers in the World Series opener.
Leading lads: The man affectionately known as the Kung Fu Panda forever etched his name in postseason lore with three — yes, THREE — home runs. He joins Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only men to achieve a three home run game in the World Series. He's also the second player to accumulate 13 total bases in a World Series game.
Sandoval's performance will garner the headlines, and deservedly so, but not to be overlooked is another solid outing from Barry Zito. The veteran left-hander held Detroit's potent offense to one run over 5 2/3 innings. He also drove in a run with a fourth-inning single. Of course it wouldn't be a postseason game without Marco Scutaro contributing in some way. His two-out single in the third drove home one run and extended the inning for Sandoval's second homer, and his second RBI single was icing on the cake. Oh, and let's not forget Gregor Blanco, who made his presence felt in left field with two spectacular diving catches.
Head hangers: Justin Verlander had a little bad luck but was mostly ineffective in his latest disappointing World Series outing. In four innings of work, the reigning Cy Young and MVP allowed five runs on six hits — including the two home runs by Sandoval and Zito's single — and needed an incredible 98 pitches just to get to that point. He's now 0-3 in three career World Series starts with a 7.20 ERA.
Key play: Just when it looked like Verlander was settling in for a perfect third inning, Angel Pagan hit a seemingly harmless bouncer towards Miguel Cabrera at third base that ended bouncing off the bag and into short left field for a double. It was another one of those "only in October" hits for San Francisco, and it turned a potential three up, three down inning into a three-run explosion after Scutaro and Sandoval delivered.
Interesting stat I: Pablo Sandoval's first-inning home run came on an 0-2 pitch from Justin Verlander. According to Susan Slusser, it was the first time all season that Verlander had allowed an 0-2 homer.
Interesting stat II: Thanks to Barry Zito's RBI single, Bill Shaikin reports the Giants became the first team in postseason history to have a pitcher drive in a run in four straight games.
What they'll be talking about: The tale of two pitchers. While the World Series struggles continued for Justin Verlander, Barry Zito keeps on rolling and earning back some of that respect he lost with Giants fans over the course of his mostly disappointing tenure there. Also, with Jose Valverde imploding again in the seventh, what type of role, if any, can he be relied upon for the rest of this series? It seems Jim Leyland may already be a man down in his bullpen. On the Giants side, was Bruce Bochy wise to leave Tim Lincecum in the game in relief, or should he have saved a few bullets once San Francisco tacked on their insurance runs?
What's next: It's not time for the Tigers to panic yet, but Game 2 certainly takes on more urgency after their Game 1 performance. They'll turn to Doug Fister in their attempt to slow down the surging Giants offense and hope that Bruce Bochy's starter, Madison Bumgarner, continues down the same uneven path he's ventured on through the first two rounds.
That important Game 2 comes your way on Thursday night and will be have a 8:07 first pitch.