When a team does everything right, when a team gets exceptional pitching, when a team gets clutch hitting, and when a team makes the big play in the field every time, and then gets lucky, too, it’s like a freight train with no brakes and all you can do is get out of the way as fast as you can. That seems to be the San Francisco Giants right now and that may explain the fate of the Detroit Tigers.
The Tigers are picking up the pieces Thursday morning, kind of in a Humpty Dumpty situation after the Giants steamrolled them in the opening game of the World Series Wednesday night, 8-3. If they can’t get the Super Glue to work they might as well mail in the rest of the results. The final score doesn’t do justice to the slaughter. When you have Barry Zito pitching like Sandy Koufax, Pablo Sandoval hitting like Babe Ruth, and Marco Scutaro making like Rogers Hornsby and when your own ace implodes, all you can do is stand around in shock and awe and soak it in.
Just what did the Detroit Tigers do with their time off since besting the Yankees? From the signs of the game they were getting ready for deer hunting season, but playing the role of the deer. That was some mashing the Tigers took. We discovered that Justin Verlander isn’t invincible and we discovered that Kung Fu Panda is.
Pablo Sandoval looks as if he trained for the World Series by taking a few extra laps around the buffet table. When he got his fourth hit of the game and was standing on first base next to Prince Fielder those crazed AT&T Park fans might have taken a deep breath worrying that the field might tilt in the direction of the grandstand. Sandoval is the new Mr. October, mentioned in the same sentence for the foreseeable future with Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols, the only others to hit three home runs in a single Series game.
Nobody, but nobody had more fun Wednesday night than the Kung Fu Panda. Fans demanded a hat-waving curtain call for Sandoval. Heck, after that game they could have passed the hat to fund construction of a statue. Not even Scutaro, who is emulating Wee Willie Keeler by constantly hitting ‘em where they ain’t this entire playoff stretch, could match the Panda for smiles.
You know they should have invoked the mercy rule after Angel Pagan hit a ground ball to third and it hit the base and bounced away like a pinball, turning into a double. Throw in Zito driving in a run (the commentators said it was the fourth straight playoff game Giants pitchers collected an RBI) and it wouldn’t be surprising to hear that the San Francisco staff has a new mantra: “We don’t need no stinking designated hitter.”
Compound this one-sided offense with Verlander, ostensibly the best pitcher in baseball, having a bad game and then being relieved by Al Albuquerque throwing 55-foot pitches that bounced to the plate making it appear as if he was trying to kill gophers instead of throwing strikes and there is no reason for the Tigers to do anything but torch this game film.
Although the Giants have more momentum than either Obama or Romney, the beauty of baseball is that it is not the NCAA tournament or the NFL playoffs. It is not one and done and tomorrows can be 180 degrees different from yesterdays. So as bleak as the opening night reviews read for the Tigers, Thursday it’s more likely that the Panda will be caged than produce an instant replay (and here’s the biggest thing of all) with completely different pitchers.