Tigers must put Game 1 loss behind them
SAN FRANCISCO — It's not the start the Detroit Tigers wanted but now all they can do is forget about it.
It might have been expected for the Tigers' bats to be a little bit rusty after the long layoff, but Justin Verlander, too?
Verlander came into the World Series with a 3-0 record and 0.74 ERA this postseason.
But two Pablo Sandoval home runs, a Marco Scutaro RBI single and — worst yet — a Barry Zito RBI single — knocked the Tigers ace out of Game 1 after just four innings.
Yes, even the San Francisco Giants starting pitcher was successful at the plate against Verlander on Wednesday night in what ended as an 8-3 loss for the Tigers in Game 1.
Verlander wasn't sure if he could attribute his struggles to not having started since Oct. 16.
"I know I was a little bit out of sync," Verlander said. "But whether that was the layoff or just being out of sync, you can't expect to be perfect every time out. Whether this was on five days or nine days, I might have been out of sync either way."
The four-inning outing was the shortest for Verlander since he went four innings in Game 1 of last year's ALCS against the Texas Rangers. In his career, he has had only 10 games (regular season and postseason) in which he didn't pitch past the fourth inning.
"First you give the Giant hitters credit," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He was definitely rusty, there's no question about it, and he got on fast-forward. He got out of sync. He didn't really pitch, obviously, the way he's capable of pitching."
It doesn't really matter if Verlander was affected by being out of his routine or he just had a bad game, the result is the same: the Tigers are down 0-1 in the World Series.
What matters now is that both Verlander and the Tigers get back in their routine, the rhythm that got them to the World Series in the first place.
Now that the series has started, I expect Verlander to get back to his normal self in time for his next outing, which seems likely to be Game 5.
What matters right now for the Tigers is what they're able to do against Giants’ Game 2 starter Madison Bumgarner. The 23-year-old has not started in 10 days, since giving up six runs on eight hits in 3-2/3 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. He's 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA in two postseason starts.
"If he's hitting his spots all game long, then we're going down 0-2," said Delmon Young, who was 2 for 4 in Game 1. "When pitchers live on the corner and hitting the glove without it moving, we don't have much success. But when they're missing out over the plate, that's where we get the pitchers."
Verlander also pointed out that he's not the only good starter the Tigers have.
"Is it disappointing? Yeah. Would you like to have won Game 1? Absolutely," Verlander said. "But I don't know if you guys have been watching, but the three guys behind me have been doing pretty well. It's not the end of the world by any means. We feel confident every day. There's nobody in there hanging their heads at all."
Detroit Game 2 starter Doug Fister alluded to it before the game when he was asked about the pitching being contagious.
"Even when times are tough, that's when it's really time to pick up one another and say it's all right," Fister said. "If you didn't get the job done, the next guy is, and you've got to have faith and trust in your teammates."
Fister has a 1.35 ERA in his two postseason starts this year. If anyone is up for a challenge like containing the hot Giants, it's Fister.
Plus baseball players always have the mindset that it's not one game that matters, it's winning a series. Even if it is the World Series.
"They did everything right and we didn't (in Game 1)," Alex Avila said. "That's the way it goes. That's why you play a seven-game series. Hopefully we'll come out with a split and get back home."