October 27, 2012
The San Francisco Giants laid to rest any doubt as to whether they could sustain the momentum from their comeback NLCS victory against the St. Louis Cardinals. Soon after World Series 2012 began on Wednesday night, they got on the board first in the first inning. They widened their lead in the subsequent innings, making Detroit Tigers star pitcher Justin Verlander look helpless on the mound. The Tigers depend heavily on his pitching arm, and for them to have been beaten as badly as that (8-3) was a humiliating jolt. But the biggest star of Game 1 was without a doubt Pablo "Panda"* Sandoval, who tied a World Series record by hitting three (3) home runs. (Albert Pujols did it last year, in World Series Game 3; Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson did it many years ago.) The homers came in the first, third, and fifth innings; in his fourth at-bat, Sandoval hit a single. Not only did Barry Zito outpitch Justin Verlander, he actually drove in a run, which is highly unusual for American League pitchers. Final score: Giants 8, Tigers 3.
* I was wondering about all those panda images held up by Giants fans; now I know why.
Game 2 was much closer, but the proverbial "fickle finger of fate" (remember "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In"?) favored the Giants. It was a classic pitchers' duel between Doug Fister (Tigers) and Madison Bumgarner (Giants). Fister pitched very well in spite of being hit on the head by a line drive in the second inning, but was replaced after giving up a single (which freakishly bounced off third base, just out of Miguel Cabrera's grasp) in the seventh inning. Fister was charged with a run scored, which happened on a double play, so there was no RBI. The Giants pitcher put in an excellent performance. In the second inning, Delmon Young doubled down the left field line, and Prince Fielder tried to score from first base, but was thrown out at the plate (just barely) by second baseman Marco Scutaro, who strayed into the shortstop's territory. The third base coach (Gene Lamont) should have known better than to take an unnecessary risk when he waved the portly, slow-footed Fielder home. The Tigers would have had runners on second and third with no outs, but they failed to score in that inning, or in any other inning, in fact. The Giants scored a second run on a sac fly in the eighth inning, without any hits, making the final score 2-0. See MLB.com.
In Game 3 tonight, the theme was wasted opportunities by the Tigers. In the first and third innings, they had runners on first and second with just one out, and both times they grounded into a double play. (Prince Fielder and Quintin Berry.) In the fifth inning, they loaded the bases with one out, and still they failed to get a run! Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera popped out to end the inning. Meanwhile, the Giants scored twice in the second inning, thanks to a triple to deep right-center field by Gregor Blanco, and a single by Brandon Crawford. The Giants' Ryan Vogelsong, the journeyman minor-league pitcher who finally caught a break in the big leagues, had one of the best games of his career. Final score: 2-0. It was the Tigers' first loss at home this postseason.
So now the Tigers are on the brink of elimination, and as I mentioned on Wednesday, there is quite an "eerie parallel" between the two League Championship Series and the World Series this year, and the way they transpired in 2007. The team that swept the LCS and therefore got a few days extra rest (the Rockies) were in turn swept by the team that made a stunning three-straight win comeback in the LCS, playing a full seven games (the Red Sox). I'd really like to see the World Series go on for a few more days, so I hope the Tigers can avoid the fate suffered by the Rockies.
Just like last year, etc., I present the home ballparks of the two World Series teams, for easy comparison. AT&T Park and Comerica Park are both above-average in terms of outfield size, but otherwise have few similarities. Just roll over the thumbnail images to switch between the respective full-size diagrams.
I've been working on diagram revisions of Comerica Park, as well as PETCO Park, which as I mentioned recently will undergo significant changes in outfield dimensions next year. Tomorrow might be the last game played at Comerica Park this year, so I'd better hurry...