With the World Series opening on Wednesday night in San Francisco, the majority of prognosticators, analysts, talking heads, Las Vegas bookmakers and fans of Major League Baseball gave the Tigers an extreme advantage in Game 1.
This advantage stemmed from the fact that the greatest pitcher on the planet, Justin Verlander, would be toeing the slab for the visiting team. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Giants were tossing the soft-tossing veteran left-hander Barry Zito. Obviously a major mismatch and Game 1 to Detroit, right?
Clearly no one told that to Pablo Sandoval and the Giants. Sandoval had already faced Verlander once this season, delivering a two-out, three-run triple in the 1st inning of the All-Star Game. After falling behind 0-2 in his first at-bat on Wednesday, Sandoval got him again, smashing a solo homer to center field to get the Giants on the board.
He wasn’t nearly done yet though. When he strode to the plate in the third inning, the Giants had already struck for a second run on back-to-back two-out hits from Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro. This time, Sandoval got ahead in the count 2-0, then lined a fastball for an opposite-field two-run shot, increasing their advantage to 4-0.
In the fifth inning, Sandoval etched his name in the history books, blasting an offering from Al Alburquerque over the wall in center for his third home run of the game. He became just the fourth man in MLB postseason history to accomplish that feat, joining Albert Pujols, Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth (who did it twice).
Sandoval had a chance to add to his legend with fourth home run, but had to settle for a single off Jose Valverde in the seventh, completing a historic 4-for-4 evening as the Giants cruised to an 8-3 victory in Game 1.
The onus for the Tigers is now squarely on Doug Fister to step up and even the series on Thursday. If he fails to do so, they would head home in an 0-2 hole with Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong on the horizon for Games 3 and 4.
With the Tigers trailing 6-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday, manager Jim Leyland decided it would be a great opportunity to get embattled closer Jose Valverde back on track. He had been reluctant to use the veteran right-hander at home due to the poor expected reaction from the crowd, and this seemed like the perfect type of low-leverage situation.
Oh, the best laid plans. Valverde started the inning off by fanning Tim Lincecum, but that was only after a seven-pitch battle. Angel Pagan then doubled into the right-field corner, and came around to score on an RBI-single from Marco Scutaro. Pablo Sandoval followed that up with a single of his own, as did Buster Posey who drove home Scutaro.
The final line: two runs on four consecutive hits in just 1/3 of an inning. And remember, that one out he did record was a strikeout of the opposing pitcher, after a seven-pitch battle. That could have been even worse, had Joaquin Benoit not stranded the two runners left on base. While Valverde had supposedly fixed a mechanical flaw, his velocity was still noticeably diminished and all of his pitches had little-to-no movement on them.
Clearly, he can’t be trusted to pitch again in anything that may resemble a close game for the remainder of the series. In fact, it wouldn’t be incredibly surprising to see an unexpected announcement that Valverde has been hiding some sort of injury, allowing the Tigers to replace him on the World Series roster with someone who may actually be able to contribute to the cause.
Ozzie Guillen was hired as the manager of the Miami Marlins heading into the 2012 season. His arrival was supposed to bring energy and excitement to the team as they embarked on their first season in Marlins Park.
Things got off to a very rocky start after Guillen made some controversial comments about Fidel Castro in April, leading to a five-game suspension. Things didn’t get any better once he returned, as the team played un-inspired baseball for the majority of the season and finished in the cellar of the NL East with a 69-93 record.
There are still three seasons and $7.5 million remaining on Guillen’s contract, which the Marlins will have to eat in order to let him walk. Still, even with that hefty price tag, the move seemed inevitable.
Guillen has now worn out his welcome in two different cities, and may have difficulty convincing another organization that he’s the right person to lead their club. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Ozzie take a year or two off from coaching, and return to the TV booth as an analyst and commentator.
As for the Marlins, they have already shown strong interest in Mike Redmond for their managerial vacancy. Redmond managed the Blue Jays’ Class A affiliate in Dunedin this season, and previously played for the Marlins from 1998-2004. Dodgers’ third base coach Tim Wallach and Reds’ pitching coach Bryan Price are also said to be in the mix.
American League Quick Hits: Johnny Peralta smashed a two-run homer in the ninth inning of Game 1, giving him three long balls in his past two games… Justin Verlander failed to live up to massive expectations in Game 1 of the World Series, surrendering five runs on six hits in just four innings of work… The Mariners declined Miguel Olivo’s option for the 2013 season… The Twins have declined Matt Capps’ 2013 option and he will hit the free agent market as well… Randy Wolf will undergo Tommy John surgery next Tuesday, ruling him out for the entire 2013 season… The Red Sox and David Ortiz remain in discussions on a potential two-year deal… C.J. Wilson underwent successful surgery on Tuesday to remove bone spurs from his left elbow… The Mariners released Munenori Kawasaki after one dreadful season, and he appears likely to return to Japan… The Royals have hired the combination of Jack Maloof and Andre David to replace Kevin Seitzer as their hitting coach… Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi indicated Wednesday that Alex Rodriguez would be his everyday third baseman in 2013… The Red Sox have continued to negotiate with Cody Ross and are confident they’ll be able to re-sign him… Torey Lovullo, who had served as the Blue Jays’ first base coach, will be hired as John Farrell’s bench coach for the Red Sox.
National League Quick Hits: Barry Zito again stepped up on the biggest stage, twirling an absolute gem in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday. He surrendered just one run on six hits over 5 2/3 innings of work, and also smashed an RBI single to left field in the game… Tim Lincecum was again electrifying in relief work on Wednesday, tossing 2 1/3 perfect innings while racking up five strikeouts… Marco Scutaro added to his postseason resume with a pair of RBI singles in Game 1 of the World Series… Kenley Jansen underwent a heart ablation on Tuesday, a procedure that will hopefully cure Jansen’s heart issues… Brandon Beachy began a throwing program on Monday and hopes to re-join the Braves’ rotation around the All Star break in 2013… Nationals’ prospect Matthew Purke had surgery to clean out scar tissue on his shoulder in August, but is expected to be fully recovered for spring training… Matt Kemp isn’t expected to swing a bat until January after having his labrum reattached to the socket of his left shoulder… The Cubs removed the interim tag from James Rowson, making him their full-time hitting coach… Giants’ bench coach Ron Wotus has emerged as a possible managerial candidate for the Rockies’ vacancy.