Tigers can take heart - it was only one game - NBC Sports

Tigers can take heart - it was only one game
After disastrous start, Detroit must quickly rebound to get even in World Series
October 25, 2012, 10:10 am

And that Barry Zito - coming off an impressive NLCS-altering Game 3 start - might be able to exploit that with his reliance on location and variety of off-speed stuff.

You also could have expected the Giants' freakish run of postseason success - everything from winning six consecutive elimination games to balls bouncing off bases to pitchers driving in runs in four consecutive games - to continue.

But considering how great Justin Verlander had been in his first three postseason starts, an off night from him was a long shot.

And what exactly nobody expected was all of those things occurring. Add in a night for the World Series record book - three home runs from Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval and you're left with a worst-case-scenario combination of events for the Tigers in an 8-3 Giants romp in Game 1.

So now what for the Tigers? Now that their plan of Verlander giving them a 1-0 series lead has gone by the wayside?

"Just win the next game,'' first baseman Prince Fielder said. "There is no formula. I wish I knew, or else we would have won this game, too.''

Added manager Jim Leyland: "There was nothing fluky about this. They beat us in every way. We did not pitch good tonight, obviously. When you use five pitchers in a game Justin Verlander starts, that's not good tonic. That usually doesn't work too good. They're really good. And so are we. And tomorrow is another day.''

It had been eight days since Verlander dominated the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALCS. Leyland thought the longer-than-usual time between starts affected Verlander's command.

"First of all, you give the Giants' hitters credit,'' Leyland said. "But (Verlander) definitely was rusty; there's no question about it. His fastball command was not good. He got out of sync. He got on fast-forward. He didn't pitch well. It's that simple.''

But Verlander wasn't as certain. Asked if the layoff affected him, his response was, "I can't answer that .You can't expect to be perfect every time out.''

Verlander's slider was very sharp, and his fastball velocity reached 97 mph, but too many of them ran back into the middle portion of the plate. In the Giants' three-run third, his total of 38 pitches was his most in any inning this season.

Verlander served up the first two of Sandoval's home runs - "extremely impressive, wish I hadn't contributed'' was his reaction - and allowed five runs and six hits in only four innings.

"Is it disappointing? Yes,'' Verlander said. "Did I want to win this game and give us a 1-0 lead? Obviously. But I don't know if you guys have been watching or not, but the other three guys (in the rotation) have been pitching pretty doggone well. So this (series) is not over by any means.''

Tigers hitters, who brought a .294 postseason batting average into the World Series, weren't about to play the layoff-as-excuse card.

"I said it before - the time off doesn't really matter,'' Fielder said. "You take a month off, and they tell you you're in the World Series, and you're mind gets right into it. We did what we could (during the layoff). We worked out, we scrimmaged.''

Instead, they credited Zito, who allowed only a sixth-inning run and six hits.

"He hit his spots,'' Fielder said. "He didn't miss much out over the plate.''

Catcher Al Avila put it a different way: "He's a trick pitcher, a junk-baller. He throws a lot of stuff up there. He hits his spots, then when he goes out of the zone, you chase. That's what he's trying to do to you.''

''There's no secret, really, about Zito,'' Leyland said. "You know what he does. He does it very well. He stays out of the middle (of the plate). He changes speeds. He throws this when you're looking for that, and vice versa.''

As for Sandoval, who became only the fourth player (Babe Ruth twice, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols) to hit three homers in a World Series game, the Tigers' immediate reaction didn't signal major changes in how they will pitch him. But at the very least, you have to expect them to stay away from Sandoval as much as possible.

"We didn't make great pitches on him, and you have to give him credit,'' pitching coach Jeff Jones said. "He's kind of a different player. He's definitely a bad-ball hitter. I don't think we're going to change what we do too much. We just have to make better pitches.''

But the Tigers know tonight's Game 2 must be much different than Game 1.

"They executed and we didn't,'' Avila said. "They did everything right, and we didn't. But we do this for a living. Coming back (in Game 2) is like losing any other game (during the season) and having to come back the next day and win. That's why it's a seven-game series. The key will be getting it back to (Verlander) in Game 5.''



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