I started this blog with many aspirations as to what I may achieve and what may one day be possible. The single aspiration that I held the most hope for was to grow as a writer while following a player I enjoyed watching play and that I thought would one day reach stardom nationally. There were glimpses of this envisioned future at the All-Star game this year as Pablo Sandoval helped win home field advantage in the World Series. He hit the first bases loaded triple in All-Star game history off the same guy he would face in Game 1 tonight, Justin Verlander. Tonight I saw that my expectations for the Panda may be arriving sooner than expected as he led the San Francisco Giants to victory over the Detroit Tigers by a score of 8-3.
Cropped photograph from Pablo Sandoval’s Twitter account @KFP48
Three homers in his first three at bats tonight has put Pablo’s name on a short list of names to have achieved such a feat. Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols are the only other men in World Series history dating back over 100 years to hit three homers in one World Series game. Although the Panda has a ways to go to become a household name nationally and reach full stardom, he showed tonight that he has the talent. If he truly desires to be one of the best by putting forth the effort year in and year out and if he can avoid injury (no more hamate bones to break at least), there is nothing to stop him.
Gracias a dios por esta noche , a mi familia , a ese grupo de persona que me ayudan a mejorar día a día – y toda esa hermosa fanáticada de
— KFP48 (@KFP48) October 25, 2012
Pablo Sandoval’s tweet after the game translated to english as “Thank god for tonight, my family, that group of people who help me to improve day by day – and all the beautiful fans”
Tonight, Pablo hit two homers off one of the best pitchers in the game on the baseball’s biggest stage. Each of his homers off Verlander came with two outs. His first homer was a solo shot to center on a 95 mph high fastball above the strike zone in the 1st inning. It came on a 0-2 count to give the Giants an early 1-0 lead. His second homer came on a 2-0 count in the 3rd inning which was once again on a 95 mph fastball. Just before the homer you could read Verlander’s lips as Tigers’ pitching coach Jeff Jones visited the mounted. The visit prompted Verlander to ask “What are you doing out here?” I think we can all agree that Jones was not out there to tell Verlander to throw a fastball the Panda could drive to the opposite field in left and then say “wow” after. Too bad that is exactly what he did on the very next pitch.
Wow! That’s all I can say. #panda
Here is what rival Dodger Matt Kemp had to say about Pablo Sandoval’s performance via his Twitter account
Pablo’s at bat in the 3rd would not have been possible without Angel Pagan starting it all off with two outs on one of the more interesting doubles you will see. Pagan chopped a pitch into the ground towards third and as Miguel Cabrera moved behind the bag to field the ball after the second hop, it instead caromed off the bag into left. Marco Scutaro kept the inning going with a single on the eighth pitch from Verlander. This came after fouling off two 98 mph fastballs to bring Pagan in to score and set it all up for Pablo.
Pablo’s third homer came in the bottom of the 5th off of Tigers’ reliever and notorious ball kisser Al Alburquerque with a 1-1 count. Alburquerque came in after Verlander was lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the inning. Unlike the fastballs he hit for his first two homers, it was an 84 mph slider that he hit over the fence in center this time around.
Amongst the many tweets put out there after Pablo’s third homer, it was most interesting to see what Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez had to say.
Allá va el tercero, pues! Pablo pa’ la Historia! Viva Venezuela!!
— Hugo Chávez Frías (@chavezcandanga) October 25, 2012
Translated in english as “There goes the third, then! Pablo for history! Long live Venezuela!!”
In Pablo’s 4th and final at bat of the night, with a chance to put himself in a class of his own, he would fail to homer. Instead he would hit a single to center off Jose Valverde with a 1-0 count. The Panda would finish 4-for-4 on the night with 3 homers, 3 runs and 4 RBI’s in 4 plate appearances. Pablo saw just 11 pitches on the night and it was interesting to see that each of his homers came on the third pitch and in each of the possible combinations of 0-2, 2-0 and 1-1 after two pitches.
The Giants have won their 14th straight game in which Barry Zito started. Zito gave up just 1 earned run in 5 and 2/3 innings and came up with a timely RBI single in the 4th inning. Tim Lincecum stole the show though, working a perfect 2 and 1/3 innings while striking out 5 of the 7 batters he faced tonight.
The Giants proved in each of their two previous series that nothing is over until the final game. While the Giants are all smiles after giving themselves their first lead in any postseason series before the final game this year, they will be focused on winning tomorrow’s game and putting those smiles aside. Never mind, Pablo and the bunch will still be smiling and remaining loose just as they have the whole way and who knows, they just might smile themselves to their second world championship in three years.
by Raul Rekow Jr.