Verlander's Series struggles return against Giants in Game 1

John Perrotto, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- Seven years later, it was the same result for Justin Verlander.
The Detroit Tigers right-hander lasted just four innings and took the loss Wednesday night as the San Francisco Giants rolled to an 8-3 victory behind Pablo Sandoval's three home runs in Game 1 of the World Series at AT&T Park.
Two of Sandoval's three home runs came off Verlander as he tied the World Series record held by Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols.
Verlander was tagged for five runs and six hits while walking one and striking out four in a 98-pitch effort.
It was eerily reminiscent of Game 1 of the 2006 World Series. Verlander, then a rookie, was rocked for seven runs, six earned, in five innings in a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Comerica Park in Detroit. The Cardinals won that series in five games.
Verlander has gone on to become perhaps the premier pitcher in baseball. He won both the American League MVP and Cy Young awards last season, when he went 25-5. He followed that with a 17-8 record this season.
Verlander had been almost perfect in the postseason this year, winning each of his first three starts while posting a 0.73 ERA. He shut out the Oakland Athletics in the decisive fifth game of the American League Division Series.
However, Verlander had not pitched in a week since beating the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the AL Championship Series, and he felt the layoff might have contributed to his struggles.
"I felt like I was out of synch," Verlander said. "I'm not used to pitching with so much time off. That might have been the reason for the way I pitched, but sometimes you just have bad games, too. It was a bad game."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was surprised by Verlander's lack of velocity. Verlander's fastball has averaged 95.1 mph this season, according to Baseball Prospectus. However, he had trouble hitting that on the radar gun in Game 1, as the heater usually sat in the 92-93 mph range.
"The ball didn't seem to be coming out of his hand quite right," Leyland said. "It's a little bit puzzling. It looks like the fastball was just not quite exploding."
Leyland also thought Verlander might have suffered from having too much rest.
"I think probably a little bit of a layoff hurt Justin," Leyland said. "His command was not good.
"I think he just got out of pitching, started throwing a little bit too much."

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