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Dec 15, 2012 7:48pm
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SAN FRANCISCO —A roly-poly Kung Fu Panda outslugged the Triple Crown winner.
Adrian Wilson Jersey . An October outcast
outpitched the Cy Young ace. With Pablo Sandoval and Barry Zito taking star
turns, this World Series is off to a rollicking start. Sandoval hit three home
runs and joined Reggie Jackson, Babe Ruth and Albert Pujols as the only boppers
to do it in the Series, and the San Francisco Giants jolted Justin Verlander and
the Detroit Tigers 8-3 on Wednesday night in Game 1. “Man, I still cant believe
it,” Sandoval said. A boisterous AT&T Park crowd—a sea of black and
orange outfits—roared as Sandoval connected in his first three at-bats.
Popular in the Bay Area for his outgoing personality and unusual physique, he
went 4 for 4 and drove in four runs. A Giant panda for sure. From the first
pitch to last, it was basically a perfect game by the Giants. Coming off a Game
7 win over St. Louis on Monday night, they looked totally fresh. “We played our
last game only two days ago,” Sandoval said. “Were still hot. We just came here
and played our game.” Verlander, the reigning Cy Young winner so dominant in
this post-season, looked uncomfortable from the outset and constantly pawed at
the mound. As fans filed out singing along with Tony Bennetts standard “I Left
My Heart in San Francisco,” the final score raised a nagging question for
manager Jim Leyland and his favoured Tigers: Did too much rest after a playoff
sweep of the Yankees mean too much rust? “I just didnt execute tonight,”
Verlander said. “It was kind of a battle from the get-go. They took advantage of
that and swung the bat pretty well, especially Pablo and (Marco) Scutaro. A
couple of good bounces their way, bad for us.” Game 2 is Thursday night, with
Doug Fister starting for the Tigers against Madison Bumgarner. Left off the 2010
World Series roster by the champion Giants, Zito shut out the Tigers until
Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabreras RBI single in the sixth. The Giants won for
the 14th straight time with Zito starting. “Just the opportunity alone was
mind-blowing. Me and my wife were dancing around when I heard,” Zito said of
getting the Game 1 start. “And then the boys came out swinging and played great
defence.” Sandoval did his damage with his bat. He donated the wood he used for
the first two homers to the Hall of Fame—no need for it anymore, he broke it
on the backswing of his second shot. It was certainly a moment of retribution of
Sandoval. He was benched during the 2010 World Series, his production and
confidence down, his weight up. In the stands on this night, fans wearing furry
panda hats celebrated with him. “You have to keep working. Ive never lost faith
to be here,” he said. Get this: It was the first three-homer game at the stadium
originally known as Pac Bell Park since the very first one, when Kevin Elster
did it for the Dodgers in 2000. Nope, not even home run king Barry Bonds had
done this. Tagged by Sandoval for a solo shot in the first inning, Verlander
could only mouth Wow! when the Giants star launched a two-run drive in the third
that set off another blast of fog horns. Sandoval reprised his power show from
this years All-Star game, when his bases-loaded triple highlighted a five-run
first inning against Verlander. Quite a blast from a team that finished last in
the majors in homers. “Were not known for our power,” manager Bruce Bochy noted.
And if there was any doubt that Verlander was shaky, the clearest sign came in
the fourth. Thats when Zito, a career .099 hitter, sliced an RBI single with two
outs off the current AL MVP for a 5-0 lead. The festive crowd stood and
applauded when it was announced that Verlander was being pulled for a pinch
hitter in the fifth. Sandoval gave his followers another reason to get up
moments later when he hit a solo homer off reliever Al Alburquerque in the
fifth, answering the cheers by waving his batting helmet in a curtain call. The
Tigers seemed out of sorts in their first game following a five-day layoff. That
was an issue in 2006, too, when Verlander and his teammates had nearly a week
off before getting wiped out by the Cardinals. “Im one thats been around long
enough to know that a lot of things happen in this game. This was a big-hyped
game with Justin, probably a lot of pressure on him,” Leyland said. “But I dont
think it had anything to do with the pressure. His fastball command was not
good. He got out of sync. He got on fast forward. He just did not pitch well
tonight. Its that simple,” he said. Pujols homered three times last year,
Jackson accomplished the feat in 1977 and Ruth did it in 1926 and again in 1928.
For good measure, Sandoval lined a single his last time up. “We were hoping for
a water shot but he got a lousy single. Kind of killed the whole deal for us,”
Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt kidded. Sandoval is one of a record nine
Venezuelans on the Series rosters, and his power performance attracted attention
way beyond the ballpark. “There goes the third! Pablo makes history,” Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez tweeted in Spanish. Scutaro, the NL championship series
MVP, twice hit RBI singles after doubles by Angel Pagan. NL batting champion
Buster Posey contributed two hits, left fielder Gregor Blanco made diving
catches to rob Cabrera and Prince Fielder, and Tim Lincecum came out of the
bullpen to prevent further damage. The Giants kept getting good bounces, with
Pagan hitting a double that hopped off the third-base bag. ALCS MVP
Delmon Young, meanwhile, failed to run after a tapper in front of the plate that
the Giants turned into a double play. Pitching in San Francisco for the first
time since 2008, Verlander scuffed at the rubber while warming up for the first
inning, pulled off his glove after badly overthrowing a curve and kept taking
deep breaths. He hardly resembled the guy who was 3-0 with an 0.74 ERA in three
playoff starts this year. Ever since two poor outings in the 2006 Series against
St. Louis—punctuated by two throwing errors—Verlander has worked hard to
harness his emotions and 100 mph heat in the early going. Verlander was trying
to settle in when Sandoval tagged him, pouncing on an 0-2 fastball and lining it
into the front row over the centre-field wall. Verlander got into trouble again
the third, and pitching coach Jeff Jones strolled to the mound when the count
went to 2-0 on Sandoval. Verlander stared at Jones and shook his head. On the
next pitch, Verlander could do little but watch the ball sail into the front row
in left. To some, this looked somewhat similar to the 2010 Series opener. That
day, the Giants beat up the supposedly unhittable Cliff Lee on their way to a
five-game romp over Texas. “Well, you know, its hard to figure this game
sometimes. You hear the old adage—Thats baseball. These guys are human, and
sometimes theyre not quite on top of their game,” Bochy said. This is how bad it
got for the Tigers: Former closer Jose Valverde made his first appearance in 11
days. Leyland still isnt sure what hell get from the struggling reliever.
Lincecum, meanwhile, retired seven straight batters and struck out five of them.
The two-time Cy Young winner has embraced his new role in the bullpen.
Jhonny Peralta hit a two-run homer for the Tigers in the ninth off mop-up
reliever George Kontos. NOTES: Tampa Bays Desmond Jennings was the only other
player this year to homer twice in a game off Verlander. ... Willie Mays and
fellow Giants Hall of Famers Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and Gaylord Perry
took part in the first-ball ceremony. ... Tigers great Al Kaline, now a team
executive, watched Detroit take batting practice from behind the cage. ... The
Game 1 winner has won eight of the last nine championships. ... Cabrera and
Posey marked the first set of batting champs to face each other in the World
Series since 1954 when it was Mays of the New York Giants and Bobby Avila of
Cleveland. When Cabrera walked on a close full-count pitch, he playfully patted
the Giants All-Star catcher on his way to first base. ... Tigers bullpen catcher
Jeff Kunkel wandered the stands well before the teams took the field for
warmups, snapping pictures of the stadium and field with his cellphone. ... The
Giants franchise played its 106th Series game—they have won 50—trailing
only the Yankees (225) and Cardinals (112). The Dodgers are fourth with 105. Michael Floyd Elite Jersey . Ajax will host
Man United on Feb. 16 in a clash of clubs who have been European champion a
combined seven times. “Its two teams that should have been in the Champions
League still,” Ajax commercial director Henri van der Aat told The Associated
Press. Larry Fitzgerald Black Jersey . Webber stayed
out in front to claim his second victory of the Formula One season for Red Bull
and trim Alonsos lead in the championship over him to 13 points. “Fernando is a
wily old fox, I thought he was looking after the tires and just waiting to pull
the pin and go a little bit,” Webber said. http://www.shopthecardinalsjersey.com/o-brien-schofield-jerseys
.C. —Dan Forsman overcame back problems Friday to shoot a 7-under 65 and take
a one-stroke lead over Fred Funk, David Frost and Larry Mize in the Greater
Hickory Classic. William Gay Jersey . General manager Paul
Holmgren addressed his teams attempt to land restricted free agent defenceman
Shea Weber on Wednesday, one week after signing him to a 14-year, $110 million
offer sheet that the Nashville Predators matched. Rob Housler Jersey . The Pro Bowl linebacker
said it “definitely could be” the best team hes played on after sweeping changes
during the off-season that sent expectations soaring.(Sports Network) – Fresh
off of halting a five-game losing streak, the Toronto Blue Jays will look to
make it back-to-back wins when they play host to the Chicago White Sox on Monday
night at Rogers Centre. The Jays halted the five-game skid by topping the New
York Yankees, 10-7, on Sunday in the finale of a three-game set. Rajai Davis
drove in five runs and made a superb defensive play, as Toronto avoided the
sweep. Edwin Encarnacion punctuated a six-run fourth inning with his 30th homer
of the season for the Blue Jays, who continue to play without injured regulars
Jose Bautista (wrist), Brett Lawrie (oblique), Adam Lind (back) and
J.P. Arencibia (hand). “Finally a good offensive day,” said Blue Jays manager
John Farrell. “In the fourth and fifth innings, we were able to finally create
some separation on the offensive side.” Carlos Villanueva takes the ball for
Toronto today against Chicago. The D