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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Giants win World Series opener in a rout

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Gary Reyes
Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants celebrates his solo home run in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the World Series at AT&T Park on Wednesday, October 24, 2012, in San Francisco, California. (Gary Reyes/San Jose Mercury News/MCT)

They call him the Panda because he is a big roly-poly happy specimen.

But Pablo Sandoval is a vicious beast with a bat in his hands, as the Tigers and Justin Verlander discovered Wednesday night in Game 1 of the World Series.

Sandoval became only the fourth player to hit three homers in one World Series game as the red-hot Giants sent an October chill through the American League champions with an 8-3 victory at AT&T Park.

And he lost his bat in the process — to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

“I used that bat all postseason,” he said. “I don’t have too many superstitions with the bat. It’s not the bat, it’s you.”

And he and his bats have a thing against Verlander, against whom he tripled in the All-Star Game.

“He’s one of the best pitchers in the big leagues,” Sandoval said. “You want to face the best.”

But on Wednesday, Verlander was second best to Sandoval and Giants’ starter Barry Zito, who allowed only one run before leaving after 52/3 innings.

“I just didn’t execute,” Verlander said. “It was a battle from the get-go.”

He was done in on Sandoval’s first-inning solo homer and his third-inning, two-run homer to left field. Sandoval added a third homer against reliever Al Alburquerque and a bullet single against Jose Valverde.

And he created instant Panda-monium for the crowd of 42,955 — many of them wearing Panda-style hats — as he joined Babe Ruth (twice), Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players with three homers in a World Series game.

Even more amazing?

Sandoval hit only 12 homers in the regular season but already has six in 13 postseason games.

His exploits upstaged Zito, the surprise Game 1 starter who wasn’t even on the Giants’ World Series roster in 2010.

“Coming out in a game like that, you expect a 10-0, 2-0 game if you’re going to win,” Zito said. “To go up early like that and get momentum, that’s big.”

Zito baffled the Tigers, who hadn’t played in six days, with a blend of off-speed pitches and his patented curveball. The one-time Cy Young winner with the A’s had fallen on hard times the last few years but was at his best again Wednesday as he was in the must-win Game 5 of the NLCS.

“There’s a lot of baseball left, but there’s no question it’s good not to be behind right now,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “This was a great game for us. It’s a great way to start but that’s what it is, a start.”

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