The San Francisco Giants aim to go up 2-0 on the Detroit Tigers, as they play Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday at AT&T Park.
San Francisco drew first blood in the 108th edition of the Fall Classic on Wednesday in Game 1, as Pablo Sandoval etched his name into the record books with three home runs, while Barry Zito tossed 5 2/3 solid innings in the Giants' 8-3 win.
Sandoval hit a solo home run in the first, a two-run, opposite-field drive to left in the third and another bases-empty shot in the fifth to join Babe Ruth (1926 and 1928), Reggie Jackson (1977) and Albert Pujols (2011) as the only players with three-homer games in the Series.
"Man, I still can't believe it," Sandoval said afterward. "When you're a little kid, you dream of being in the World Series, but I was thinking of being in this situation, three homers in one game."
While Sandoval supplied the offense, Zito (1-0) took care of business on the mound, as he allowed a run, gave up six hits and struck out three in his first-ever World Series start.
Making the win even sweeter for the duo was the fact that Sandoval was benched for most of the postseason during the Giants' run to a title in 2010, with Zito being left off the playoff roster altogether that year.
"I battled in September to make the postseason roster," Zito said. "The last thing I would have expected at that point was to be starting Game 1. Just (having) the opportunity was just magical.
"To be able to go up against (Justin) Verlander and give our team a chance to go up 1-0, and the fact that we won, it's just kind of surreal. It's just a pleasure to be a part of it all."
After Zito departed San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy summoned two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, who continued his dominant run this postseason as a reliever, striking out five over 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He's now pitched 10 2/3 innings out of the bullpen this postseason and has allowed just one run.
"To have him in the bullpen, it's just like ridiculous," Zito said of Lincecum. "It's such a tool in our pocket that we can bust out at any time -- a guy that has made history with his two Cy Youngs. It was just really special personally, too, to watch Timmy carve them up and just do what he does. It was great."
Two of Sandoval's home runs came off Verlander (0-1), who was banged around for five runs and six hits in just four innings. The AL's reigning MVP and Cy Young Award winner had surrendered just two runs in his three prior starts.
"His command was not good; I think he just got out of pitching, started throwing a little bit too much," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Verlander. "But I think you start with giving the Giant hitters credit. They did a good job. They're very pesky, and obviously the big guy had one of those unbelievable nights that happens once in a while in a World Series."
History is not on the Tigers' side, as eight of the last nine and 13 of the past 15 Game 1 winners have gone on to win the World Series. They are now 2-8-1 in World Series openers, but the last six occasions Detroit has lost Game 1, it has gone on to win Game 2
Hoping to help continue that trend for the Tigers on Thursday will be California native Doug Fister, who grew up rooting for his opponent.
"Growing up, don't tell anybody, I was a Giants fan, and being able to come to a couple games when I was little, it's always been a dream and a goal for me, and now it's happening," Fister said. "It's definitely special being able to come into the ballpark and play in a World Series is something that obviously is a moment that will never be forgotten. It holds a little bit more special place in my heart, I would say, but it doesn't change what we do on the field."
Fister has been dominant through his first two postseason starts, but has nothing to show for it, as he has yet to receive a decision despite allowing just two runs in 13 1/3 frames.
"I mean, good energy, good feelings between one player and another, being able to pick one another up is a big part of the game, and I think it's one of those human elements that you really have to put forth an effort in," Fister added. "Even when times are tough, that's when it's really time to pick up one another and say it's all right. If you didn't get the job done, the next guy is, and you've got to have faith and trust in your teammates."
Opposing him will be struggling left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who has pitched to a 11.25 ERA this postseason. A 16-game winner during the regular season Bumgarner has lost both of his playoff starts and has looked bad doing so, surrendering 10 runs in only eight innings.
"I feel good about Madison," Bochy said. "He's had a great year. He's done a great job for us since he's been up here, including postseason. This is a small sample on a couple hiccups he had earlier, and I think he's getting some much-needed rest and some time to work on making a couple adjustments in his delivery.
"Sometimes you get out of sync and it's better off taking a little bit of time and trying to sort that out, which he's done. So I look forward to watching him (on Thursday)."
Amazingly, these two storied franchises have never met in the World Series, despite this being the 19th trip for the Giants and the Tigers' 11th appearance.
However, this is only the fifth time the Giants will be playing in this round since the team moved from New York to San Francisco.