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Don’t blame the layoff; blame Justin Verlander for Game 1 loss

Oct 24, 2012, 11:59 PM EDT

Justin Verlander Getty Images

Done in by poor fastball location, Justin Verlander got lit up by the Giants in Game 1 of the World Series, surrendering five runs and two Pablo Sandoval homers in four innings. Some facts from the outing:

- It was just the third in three years in which he failed to go five innings. The last was in the 2011 ALCS, when he allowed three runs in four innings in a loss to the Rangers. The only other time in the last three years that he was pulled before five innings was June 22, 2010 against the Mets (5 ER in 2 IP).

- Sandoval’s first homer was the fifth ever allowed by Justin Verlander on an 0-2 pitch, once in 2006 (Tadahito Iguchi), 2007 (Billy Butler), 2010 (Torii Hunter) and 2011 (Shelley Duncan).

- The five runs allowed matched his high total in 26 career starts against NL teams. He also gave up five runs in the aforementioned start against the Mets and in 2009 against the Cardinals.

- His 38-pitch third inning was his high total for any inning this year.

Of course, some will blame the rust for the Tigers’ struggles tonight. It’s an easy narrative, having been carried over from 2006 when they lost the World Series to the Cardinals after a lengthy layoff.

Verlander, though, wasn’t particularly rusty, having made this start on seven days’ rest. That’s just one more day off than he had for Game 1 of the ALDS. The offense wasn’t great, but it did come up with eight hits. One problem was the Tigers got nothing from the bottom of the order, which was also a big reason why the team had a disappointing offense in the regular season.

But the Tigers lost tonight because Verlander couldn’t find a way to keep them in the game. Maybe he deserves the free pass — he’s the biggest reason they’re here in the first place — but it sure would have been nice if he could have figured out a way to grind out a six-inning, three- or four-run outing, both to aid the pen and help the chances of a comeback. He needed some finesse tonight, and he simply didn’t have any.

  1. historiophiliac - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:04 AM

    Well, it was Leyland’s Loyalty night, and it again proved our undoing. He left V in too long. He put in Valverde (but, what the hell — we were losing badly already at that point — better then than in a spot where he could blow the game). The good part of the night was that Cabrera didn’t give up and I think he kind of rallied the guys a little. We didn’t get blanked — playing a hot pitcher at home. I have better hopes for the Dog — for whom the hype is not so smothering. Game 1, ladies & gentlemen.

    • sailcat54 - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:15 AM

      Tomorrow is another night. The Tigers seem to have a problem winning games on the road, but a win tomorrow in SF would be a big help to them. It will be up to the pitchers, especially the frequently inconsistent Bumgarner, to determine Game 2′s outcome. Best of luck to both teams!

      • historiophiliac - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:26 AM

        Shesus, don’t go overboard and kiss my ass now. At least give me a little: neener, neener, our pitcher hits better than your pitcher! or something.

      • sailcat54 - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:57 AM

        All righty, then! The Giants need to keep the pressure on the Tigers starting pitchers because Detroit’s relievers suck. If (and it’s a big if) Detroit has to keep going back to their bullpen, it will mean the Giants will continue to score big in the later innings. I mean, look at Valverde. Damn.

        Gotta feel good for Zito, though. It’s good to see him come back in this way.

    • itsonlyaspeedbump - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:21 AM

      I don’t expect my Giants to steamroll the Tigers. Sometimes even the greatest players are just not that good. Pretty sure that all this was today. I look forward to the more typical, nerve-wracking series the Giants usually play, hopefully with the same ending as 2010.

      The Giants always seem to score or get huge hits with two outs. That has to be demoralizing for the other team.

      See you tomorrow night.

      • historiophiliac - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:28 AM

        I was hoping for more yelling-at-the-TV, pacing-the-floor tension…and less…well, less Panda. But, yeah, tomorrow night.

  2. cur68 - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:04 AM

    There we go with the blame game. Man, it wasn’t Verlander. It was PANDA! It was luck and good swings. he went out and GOT some good ptiches. Also, it was some unlucky bounces. JV could easily have won this. BZits did well. Baffled the Tigers. The Giants played the D, too. Now, lets all root for the Tigers. I need a game 7, so they gotta trade some wins.

    • indaburg - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:19 AM

      Narrative: Verlander, now 0-3 in the WS, can’t handle the pressure of a very big stage. Discuss.

      • historiophiliac - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:36 AM

        Ehrmahgerd! Kill me now! Ack!

      • indaburg - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:39 AM

        I was being sarcastic, ‘philiac. Although I was rooting against him tonight, I respect Verlander too much for such a cheap and easy narrative.

      • historiophiliac - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:21 AM

        Rest assured, some people in the D will blame this on Kate Upton being a distraction. You don’t get a much dumber narrative than that.

      • indaburg - Oct 25, 2012 at 8:31 AM

        I hope not. He’s one of the leading contenders for the Cy Young, has one bad outing, and now his chick is suddenly a distraction? I’d like to give your fan base the benefit of the doubt.

      • nbjays - Oct 25, 2012 at 8:10 AM

        I don’t know about the World Series, Inda, but that was definitely the All-Star Game Justin Verlander out there last night.

      • indaburg - Oct 25, 2012 at 8:32 AM

        He seemed to handle the bright lights of the ALDS and the ALCS just fine.

      • nbjays - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:10 PM

        Yeah, weird. Must be something to do with pitching to National League hitters that gives him the heebie-jeebies.

    • historiophiliac - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:37 AM

      Yeah, I’m feeling 7 games.

      (Please, God, because then it’s a long, long, long time until I get baseball again.)

  3. dickclydesdale - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:07 AM

    Verlander always stinks on the national stage, like the all star game & world series.

    • rodtorfelson - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:04 AM

      So the 2012 ALDS and ALCS weren’t competed on the national stage?

      • TheBlindUmp - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:15 AM

        good point. Verlander got beat tonight. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball, in my opinion. But, he’s not unbeatable in his next game even if he pitches well. The Giants are playing well and their hitting, and luck, seems to be exceptional right now. But momentum is only as good as the next days starting pitcher. I’m looking forward to a great WS.

    • nbjays - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      …or he just stinks when pitching to NL hitters, which would explain his ALCS/ALDS success.

  4. pshanks62 - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:08 AM

    What I’ve learned tonight, Justin Verlander is incapable of KNOWING he won’t be pitching 9 innings…tries to do too much, too early…

    • TheBlindUmp - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:17 AM

      His display on the mound visit was incredible, “why are you out here?”. He thinks he’s above being coached. Not a good thing for team chemistry going forward.

    • 1baseballfan - Oct 25, 2012 at 7:30 AM

      I think it’s sort of the other way around.
      Yes, he may be incapable of KNOWING but should try to do MORE early and not worry about what’s in the tank later. With all the coverage about his velocity increasing late in the game, maybe he should do that earlier with more relievers available in the playoffs.

  5. historiophiliac - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:09 AM

    Oh, and Sandoval was amazing. Too bad he hit so well and we didn’t get any Panda-on-Fielder collisions fighting for 1b. That would be the big daddy of all highlights, I do believe.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:15 AM

      Tough loss Philiac. The Panda. Pretty much it. The Panda. It’s on to game #2.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:21 AM

      That would be the big daddy of all highlightscause of the singularity, I do believe.

      Do you want us all to die?!??!

      • historiophiliac - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:45 AM

        Wouldn’t it be awesome if that was the end of the world? If the Mayans had foreseen the Great Collision? It all ends on a baseball field….we need more baseball sci-fi.

    • indaburg - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:21 AM

      A Panda on Fielder collision may register on the Richter scale.

    • historiophiliac - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:22 AM

      PS. Tell me that wouldn’t be the BEST. SLO-MO. EVER!

    • slartibartfast4242 - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:01 AM

      Dude. It’s San Fran. That type of collision would have triggered the next big earth quake. I cringed seeing miggy fall to the ground trying to make a play at third.

      But, I agree, that would make the best ‘slo-mo’ ever. May be they’ll use it for the next Cheezit ad.

    • weaselpuppy - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:53 AM

      Nice Cecil Fielder reference in there….

  6. scumpidude - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:13 AM

    Funny how everyone was saying Zito was going to get lit up. What now!? Hahaha! Go Giants!!

  7. TheBlindUmp - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    The Giants just plain old outplayed the Tigers from the first inning to the ninth! The Tigers didn’t hustle, examples: 1) The Great Cabrara on the Pagan hit off the bag. He just stared at it and didn’t move. 2) Delmon Young on the double play ball at the plate. He just stood there and was tagged out, throw to second, out by a mile!!!! Did you see Young’s throw from left field on Zito’s hit???? OMG!!! I’ve seen little leaguers throw better. It hit the group 20 feet in front of him! They’ll be taking extra bases on him all series!

    Bring on MadBum in Game 2! CAN’T WAIT!

    • megastaff1975 - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:27 AM

      2) Delmon Young on the double play ball at the plate. He just stood there and was tagged out, throw to second, out by a mile!!!!

      That was actually a foul ball!! look it up on video you will see that the ball hit the FOUL TERRITORY AND THEN BOUNCED IN FRONT FOR POSEY TO GRAB AND TAG YOUNG. that shouldn’t even happen and now you know why young didn’t take off.

      • TheBlindUmp - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:41 AM

        as long as he touches it in fair territory, it’s a fair ball. As for lamebeck4 below, no hustle. It wasn’t 1/2 second, the ball bounce well above his head. He floundered around in left too. Did you see his throw to the plate? Hmmmm???

      • marinersnate - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:34 AM

        “That was actually a foul ball!! look it up on video you will see that the ball hit the FOUL TERRITORY AND THEN BOUNCED IN FRONT FOR POSEY TO GRAB AND TAG YOUNG. that shouldn’t even happen and now you know why young didn’t take off.”

        You should probably know the rules before you attempt to lecture the rest of us on them.

      • txnative61 - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:35 AM

        Balls can hit in foul territory before being fielded in fair territory and are then fair except past 1st or 3rd base.

    • lembeck4 - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:28 AM

      A) not a 3rd baseman alive could have made that recovery, its a fluke bounce B) Delmon was tagged out by Posey 1/2 a second after making contact C) you’re a dipshit.

      • TheBlindUmp - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:38 AM

        HA HA HA….sticks and stones, bootlick!

      • seeingwhatsticks - Oct 25, 2012 at 2:41 AM

        True, but it only bounced because he doesn’t have the range to be able to charge that ball. Pagan was going to be safe at 1B even if the ball doesn’t ricochet off the bag. Only chance for an out on that play is to charge the ball.

    • whitlockd - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:51 AM

      This isn’t really an example of outplaying anyone, but did anyone else notice Fielder drop the bat after his liner that Blanco made the diving catch on? It had the look of the way that someone might drop a bat after going deep although it could have been due to the inside-out swing. I viewed it as the former and loved the catch.

      • whitlockd - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:08 AM

        I just saw the replay on MLB. He totally threw down the bat as if he had a hit. Ha.

  8. brewcrewfan54 - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:20 AM

    I’d get hammered.

  9. pbinca - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:50 AM

    What was Jeff Jones doing coming out to the mound in the 3rd? It just pissed off JV. Then, his 2nd pitch to Sandoval went bye-bye. Dave Righetti wouldn’t make such a dumb move. The Tigers managers lost confidence early on. I blame the loss on Leyland and Jones.

  10. TheBlindUmp - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:56 AM

    The mound visit made Verlander seem childish. “What are you doing out here?” you could read his lips. It could really put the Tigers in disarray, the star pitcher is above being coached and it showed.

    • marinersnate - Oct 25, 2012 at 2:09 AM

      “The mound visit made Verlander seem childish.”

      Back in May, I watched Verlander throw an absolute babyfit at Safeco. He pitched six innings of good ball, but threw an absolute fit over umpire Brian Knight’s strike zone. He thew his mitt, turned his back, spat at calls, and then screamed at the umpire. (I am not saying that the M’s should have won this game. Not my point at all.) He just seemed to think that he was entitled to some sort of special strike zone. You almost expected him to scream “Don’t you know who I am?”

      When the 6th inning was over, he seemed to think better of his actions (or his future with this ump) and instead of heading for the dugout (knowing he was done for the night) decided to suddenly head for home plate and shake Brian Knight’s hand. “No hard feelings, Pal.”

      Verlander is a little Diva. Period.

      Here is a link to BrooksBaseball’s strike zone for that night. I count as many balls outside the zone being called strikes as I do strikes being called balls. Judge for yourself.

      http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/pfx.php?month=5&day=8&year=2012&game=gid_2012_05_08_detmlb_seamlb_1%2F&pitchSel=434378&prevGame=gid_2012_05_08_detmlb_seamlb_1%2F&prevDate=58

      • bh192012 - Oct 25, 2012 at 2:34 PM

        http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/pfx.php?month=10&day=24&year=2012&game=gid_2012_10_24_detmlb_sfnmlb_1%2F&pitchSel=217096&prevGame=gid_2012_10_24_detmlb_sfnmlb_1%2F&prevDate=1024

        Those are the pitches from last night. Honestly I think (opinion warning!) it’s a tighter strike zone than when Verlander faced the A’s recently. I think tight strike zones hurt Verlander since he has to put it where people can hit it. With Zito it’s got so much movement on the curve, that even strikes are harder to get in play. When Verlander faced the A’s he had a wide zone and worked inside/outside effectively.

        Basically when you force pitchers to throw strikes the guy with the most movement is better. When you expand the zone, the guy who can locate better has the advantage. It’s hard to hit a 96mph fastball outside the plate, but much easier to hit one over it.

  11. txnative61 - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:46 AM

    As I saw it the Giants came out sharp and took charge of the game. The blame lies with them.

  12. kanyong712 - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:52 AM

    I blame the giants!!!!!!

  13. ningenito78 - Oct 25, 2012 at 2:24 AM

    Giants in 5.

  14. hisgirlgotburrelled - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    You have to give more of the credit to Sandoval on those 2 HR’s. The first one was above the letters.

  15. loungefly74 - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    its an awesome feeling to rattle the best pitcher in the game…but (as a Giants fan), we gotta stay humble. there is A LOT more to play…

  16. SOBEIT - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    Underdogs to the end…and that’s the way I like it. Lot’s of games left and the Tigers are in the fall classic for a good reason. But it couldn’t have started any better! I think the series against the A’s proved to me that we have a chance against the Tigers, no matter what everyone else thinks!!!

    Go Gigantes!!! Adios Pelota!!!!

  17. ezwriter69 - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    This was a pretty typical post-season outing for Verlander, who, great as he’s been in the regular season, simply hasn’t delivered consistently in the post-season. Not hating, I’d love to have him on my team, but he simply hasn’t been much better than average overall in the post-season.

  18. ezwriter69 - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    This was a pretty typical post-season outing for Verlander, who, great as he’s been in the regular season, simply hasn’t delivered consistently in the post-season. Not hating, I’d love to have him on my team, but he simply hasn’t been much better than average overall in the post-season.

  19. oceanpeaks - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    I wouldn’t read too much into it… baseball is 80% adrenalin and momentum, and the Giants (and their fans) are still overflowing with natural juice from the NLCS. That’s a freight train in this game, so it was unlikely that Verlander or any other pitcher could beat them in game one. But, most baseball streaks don’t last long, and the Tigers have a very explosive offense with three straight shots at home, so don’t be surprised…

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