SAN FRANCISCO -- The reigning American League Cy Young and MVP doesn't often step off the mound looking completely confused. Yet, Justin Verlander seemed sort of shell-shocked after giving up five runs in four innings in his first postseason loss in 2012. It's safe to say no one expected the the Tigers' ace to be bewildered by the Giants' bats, but that's just exactly what happened as San Francisco stunned Detroit in an 8-3 victory in Game One of the World Series. Verlander had only allowed two runs while winning all three of his starts in this postseason. He quickly equaled that total on Wednesday night. Then doubled it. He struggled with his fastball command and seemed to be out of rhythm after being forced to take eight days off. Verlander last took the mound on Oct. 16, and defeated the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, but after Detroit swept New York they had to wait for the Giants and Cardinals to battle through a seven game National League Championship Series. The Giants squad looked in sync and the Tigers looked, well, rusty.RATTO: 'Rust' factor a myth
"Well, I think first of all you give the Giants hitters credit," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Then second of all, I think probably a little bit layoff, it's been quite a while since he's pitched." Pablo Sandoval struck first with a solo home run in the first inning. Then after back-to-back eight-pitch at-bats resulted in a tough-hop double and an RBI single, Verlander got a visit from Tigers' pitching coach Jeff Jones. As Jones walked to the mound Verlander could be seen mouthing the words, "Why are you here?" with a puzzled look on his face. "I just went out and talked to him about not trying to be too quick with a guy on first," Jones said. "I thought the first couple of pitches he threw the ball a little bit quick." The pep talk didn't work. Moments later Sandoval connected for a two-run homer on a 95-mph fastball and Jeff Jones, Sandoval, and Verlander were all trending nationwide on Twitter.Verlander mouthed the word, "Wow," as he watched the ball fly out of the park to give the Giants a 4-0 lead."I've seen enough balls off the bat now to know if somebody gets one and I definitely didn't think that was a homer off the bat," Verlander said. "I turned around and watched Delmon Young stand at the wall and that's kind of where the 'Wow' came from." Verlander had been unstoppable this postseason. He shouldn't however be completely floored by his struggles in the World Series. After Wednesday's loss he is now 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA in his first three starts in the Fall Classic. His four-inning performance is his shortest since Oct. 8, 2011, when he was held to four innings against Texas in the ALCS after two rain delays.
Verlander gave up six hits, walked one batter, and struck out four. He threw 98 pitches. "Normally when he doesn't have the typical game that he normally throws, it's fastball command more times than not," catcher Alex Avila said. "When he's able to locate his fastball, he's deadly."He had the velocity but clearly not the location. You knew things were going really bad for Verlander when Barry Zito got a hit off him in the fourth inning. Zito is just the fourth pitcher ever to record a hit against Verlander, and the first since Adam Eaton did it June 17, 2007. After Zito's single he retired Angel Pagan to end the fourth and never came back. "Is it disappointing? Yeah. Would you have liked to win Game 1? Absolutely," Verlander said while answering his own questions. "It's not the end of the world by any means." It may not be the end, but it doesn't look good statistically. The last eight home teams to win Game 1 have won the World Series.