After winning six elimination games to reach the World Series, the Giants said they wanted to take an easier route this time around. They got off to a crushing start on Wednesday, making it look easy against the best pitcher in baseball.
Appropriately, the bat Sandoval used to hit the first two homers was donated to the Hall of Fame.Sandoval did plenty, and he did it on a stage that had previously represented the low point of his career. Out of shape and out of sync, Sandoval had just three at-bats and played in one game in the 2010 World Series. That was much more action than the Giants gave Zito, who was left off the roster altogether.
Verlander had given up just two runs in his first three postseason starts. Sandoval and the Giants doubled that number in the first three innings. With two outs in the first, Sandoval crushed an elevated 95 mph fastball over the center field wall, becoming just the sixth player to homer on an 0-2 pitch from Verlander.
The stunning show was only just beginning. The Giants had another two-out rally in the third, and it started with a play that confirmed any suspicions one might have that something special is at work at AT&T Park. Angel Pagan hit a grounder to third that bounced off the bag and ricocheted into left field for a double. Marco Scutaro followed with a single to center, scoring Pagan.
Everything went the Giants’ way on this night. Sandoval stunned Verlander again a batter later, lining another 95 mph fastball into the seats, this time in left field. Verlander, who had allowed only one multi-homer game all season, stood on the mound and muttered, ‘Wow,’ before turning to the Tigers dugout, frowning and shaking his head.
With his second blast, Sandoval became the first player since Andruw Jones in 1996 to hit two homers in the first three innings of a World Series game.
Sandoval padded his historic night in the fifth, hitting an Alburquerque pitch out to center. He made some AT&T Park history, too. The only previous three-homer game at AT&T Park came when the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kevin Elster did it on April 11, 2000.