Thursday, October 25, 2012

Where Was The Real Justin?

Ok, I'll admit it.  Even before the first pitch was thrown, I had given the Detroit Tigers the win.  How could they not?  Justin Verlander was on the mound.  Arguably the best pitcher in baseball, with three dominating wins and sporting a minuscule 0.74 ERA in the playoffs, the Tigers were going to be tough, if not impossible to beat in game one.

I couldn't have been any more wrong.

The standout pitching performance came from the opposite dugout.  Barry Zito, the pitcher who didn't even make the Giants post season roster in 2010, pitched the game of his life.  In his first World Series start, Barry pitched brilliantly for 5 2/3 innings, setting the tone for his team.  He was followed by Tim Lincecum, who sat down seven straight batters, five on strike outs.  

It was a welcome sound to hear the Giants fans cheering so loudly and passionately for Barry Zito.  He's had a tough time in San Francisco and the fans haven't always been kind to him.  All the bad outings were forgotten tonight.  He even joined in the scoring, driving in the Giants fourth run after getting a hit off of Justin Verlander in the fourth inning.  This marks the fourth straight game where a Giants pitcher has driven in a run.

Offensively, the game belonged to the Giant's Pablo Sandoval.  He drove in half of his team's eight runs.  With three home runs in his first three at bats, Pablo became only the fourth player in baseball history to hit three home runs in one World Series game.  He joins Albert Pujols (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977) and Babe Ruth (1926 and 1928)  Oddly, Pablo hit only 12 home runs during the regular season.  Guess he was playing catch up tonight.

Now the nagging question.  Did the five day layoff after their sweep of the Yankees hurt the Detroit team?  In 2006 the Tigers had almost a week off after winning the ALCS.  The Cardinals went on to beat the Tigers four games to one in the World Series and many felt that the rest did the team more harm than good.  The Giants came into the World Series with only one day off and whole lot of momentum, including the high of suviving six elimination games.  Perhaps the Tigers rest only led to rust.  Let's see if they can shake it off tomorrow night.

This World Series marks the first since 1954 where the AL and NL batting champs are facing each other.  Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey won the titles this season.  In 1954 it was the New York Giants Willie Mays and the Cleveland Indians Bobby Avila who wore the crowns.

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