The opening game of the World Series was as easy for the San Francisco Giants as each of the three games it won to close out the National League Championship Series.
Giants at Home, This Postseason
The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that the Giants are the second team to win four straight games, all by at least five runs in a single postseason (the only other is the 2007 Boston Red Sox).
In doing so, they had little trouble with one of the game’s biggest pitching stars.
Let’s look at some of the keys to their Game 1 victory.
Most Total Bases
Single World Series Game
Sandoval’s 13 total bases are the second-most ever in a World Series game, trailing only the 14 by Pujols against the Texas Rangers last season.
Sandoval is the first player to hit home runs in each of his first three plate appearances in a World Series game and the first to hit three home runs in Game 1 of any postseason series.
Each of the two home runs that Sandoval had against Justin Verlander came against 95-mph fastballs.
Sandoval has three home runs against 95-mph pitches in the past six days (he hit one against the St. Louis Cardinals' Mitchell Boggs in the LCS). Since the start of the 2010 season, he only has two regular-season home runs against pitches thrown that fast.
Verlander’s World Series struggles continue
Verlander, who had won his previous seven starts with a sub-1.00 ERA, was hit hard in Game 1.
Verlander became the first American League pitcher to lose his first three World Series starts since Lefty Williams of the 1919 White Sox. (Williams was banned from baseball for his role in the “Black Sox” scandal.)
Justin Verlander This Postseason
For the second straight start, Verlander didn’t have his usual putaway stuff. He threw 38 two-strike pitches, but finished with only four strikeouts.
In the regular season, Verlander averaged a strikeout for every five two-strike pitches he threw.
The Giants did well when they laid off Verlander’s offspeed pitches. They watched 21 of them go by and only two of those were called strikes.
Sandoval’s second home run came on a fastball after he passed up at swinging at a pair of changeups that were off the plate.
In all, the Giants had four hits in the six at-bats that ended with a Verlander fastball.
Zito tames the Tigers
In addition to winning with his arm, Giants starter Barry Zito won with his bat.
He became the first pitcher to drive in a run in Game 1 of the World Series since Mike Cuellar for the 1969 Baltimore Orioles.
Did You Know?
The Giants became the first team in postseason history to have their starting pitchers drive in a run in four straight postseason games.
In fact, their starting pitchers have twice as many RBIs in their past four postseason games as they do runs allowed (two).
As for his mound work, Zito had a sharp breaking ball. He threw 29 of his 40 breaking pitches for strikes.
The pitch neutralized ALCS MVP Delmon Young, who went after a pair of Zito breaking balls that were off the plate and grounded out both times, once into a double play.
Lincecum provides the needed relief
Tim Lincecum continued his run of fine relief work in this postseason, striking out five of the seven batters he retired.
Lincecum became the first reliever to pitch at least 2 1/3 innings of baserunner-free relief, with at least five strikeouts since Todd Worrell for the 1985 Cardinals.
Detroit Tigers hitters missed on seven of their 14 swings against Lincecum and only put two of his 32 pitches into play. They took six swings against his changeup and slider and whiffed on all six.
Scutaro’s supporting role
Marco Scutaro picked up where he left off in the NLCS by going 2-for-4 with two RBIs. He’s now 16-for-32 since Game 1 of the NLCS. He has an 11-game postseason hitting streak, tied for the longest in team history with Irish Meusel.
Scutaro continued his run of swinging without missing. He has gone 27 straight swings without missing on one. For the postseason, he has swung at 89 pitches, netting 17 hits and only two swings-and-misses.