Sandoval’s 3 HRs lead Giants to 8-3 romp in openerBy Ronald Blum
SAN FRANCISCO — Pablo Sandoval hit a record-equaling three home runs to help the San Francisco Giants down the Detroit Tigers 8-3 in the World Series opener Wednesday and put himself into the same class as Reggie Jackson, Babe Ruth and Albert Pujols.
The vocal San Francisco crowd roared as the Venezuelan connected on his four at bats and drove in four runs.
Pujols homered three times last year, Jackson accomplished the feat in 1977 and Ruth did it in 1926 and again in 1928.
Justin Verlander, the reigning Cy Young pitching award winner so dominant in this postseason, looked uncomfortable from the start and constantly pawed at the mound.
After giving up a solo shot in the first inning to Sandoval, Verlander could only mouth ‘Wow!’ after the Giants star launched a two-run drive in the third. Sandoval reprised his power show from this year’s All-Star game, when his bases-loaded triple highlighted a five-run first inning against Verlander.
And if there was any doubt that Verlander was shaky, the best sign came in the fourth when pitcher Barry Zito, a career .099 hitter, sliced an RBI single with two outs a 6-0 lead.
Sandoval hit a solo homer off relief pitcher Al Alburquerque in the fifth inning, then for good measure lined a single his last time up.
From start to finish, it was basically a perfect game by the Giants. Coming off a Game 7 win over St. Louis in the National League championship series Monday.
Zito shut out the Tigers until Miguel Cabrera hit an RBI single in the sixth, and Tim Lincecum came out of the bullpen to prevent further damage.
NL championship series Most Valuable Player Marco Scutaro hit RBI singles after doubles by Angel Pagan. NL batting champion Buster Posey contributed two hits and left fielder Gregor Blanco made diving catches to rob Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
Game 2 is Thursday, with Doug Fister starting for the Tigers against Madison Bumgarner.
The Tigers seemed out of sync in their first game following a five-game layoff. That was an issue in 2006, too, when Verlander and his teammates had nearly a week off before getting wiped out by the Cardinals.
American League championship series MVP Delmon Young failed to run after a tapper in front of the plate that the Giants turned into a double play. The Giants, meanwhile, kept getting good bounces, with Pagan hitting a double that hopped off the third-base bag.
Jhonny Peralta hit a two-run homer for the Tigers in the ninth off mop-up reliever George Kontos.