The 2012 World Series got off to a thrilling start at AT&T Park, with the San Francisco Giants routing the Detroit Tigers, 8-3. Whether it was Pablo Sandoval's historic bombardment or Justin Verlander's unlikely false start, there were storylines aplenty in both dugouts in Game 1 -- as well as some interesting banter in the broadcast booth. From the events of Al Albuquerque's relief outing to the details of Barry Zito's sterling start, here is World Series Game 1 from A to Z.
Al Alburquerque: The Tigers' right-handed reliever was on the business end of Pablo Sandoval's third home of the night in the fifth inning. On the third pitch of that at-bat, A.A. threw his signature slider. The 84-mph offering was low but Panda swung anyway, golfing it out to center field. Alburquerque would not get to kiss this one.
Bruce Bochy: Having spent his ace, Matt Cain, in Game 7 of the NLCS, the Giants' skipper had to put a bit more effort into configuring his World Series pitching rotation than his counterpart. Bochy opted to go with Barry Zito in Game 1, Madison Bumgarner in Game 2, Ryan Vogelsong in Game 3 and Cain in Game 4. Through one contest, Bochy's decisions seem inspired. Not only does opening the series with a pair of lefties look like a wise move, but keeping Lincecum in the bullpen has already paid dividends and kept the short-relief specialists fresh.
Cy Young Winners: Not only did Game 1 of the 2012 World Series feature two starters with a Cy Young Award, but it included a relief appearance by a two-time recipient of the honor (Lincecum).
Delmon Young: The ALCS MVP went 2 for 4 in Game 1 (and played in left with no DH), but was one of just two Tigers with more than one hit (Austin Jackson was the other). He scored one of the Tigers' three runs. While he's more of a known commodity than Marco Scutaro, it's no sure thing that the mercurial slugger will keep up his production.
Errors. Neither team was charged with an error, although there were a few adventurous paths taken to the ball by Tigers outfielders that may have made things easier on some Giants baserunners. For the Giants, one of their outfielders may have actually helped a ball over the fence.
Fastballs: No pitch better exemplifies the differences between Justin Verlander and Barry Zito than their heaters. One of the hardest throwers in the game, Verlander's fastball lives in the mid 90s and flirts with triple digits. The left-handed Giants' pitcher lives in the low-mid 80s. Zito's fastball topped out at 86 mph (just once) in Game 1. This was about the speed of Verlander's change-up.
GIFs: As is the case with any major sporting event these days, there were plenty of GIFs being made, tweeted and enjoyed during Game 1. Our favorite is probably this one of Verlander after Sandovals' second homer.
Helping Your Cause: Although Sandoval's work with the lumber was epic, it might have been a hit from another teammate that confirmed it just wasn't going to be Justin Verlander's night. In the 4th inning, Zito scratched out a single to left, driving in the Giants' 5th run of the game.
Inexperience: Tigers right fielder Avisail Garcia had played in just 23 games in the majors before starting Game 1 of the World Series. Per Elias, only two players had less experience than this 21-year-old when they made their World Series debuts: Joe Sewell and Livan Hernandez.
Jim Leyland: After the game, the Tigers manager was candid but largely unmoved by the rout his team has just suffered. He conceded that Verlander's "command was not good" and that Valverde "wasn't terrible." He also didn't want to hear anything about momentum.
I'm a guy that doesn't believe in momentum in baseball. I think momentum is your next day's pitcher. We did not pitch good tonight, obviously. I think you can pretty much sum it up, when you use five pitchers in a game that Justin Verlander starts, that's not good tonic. That usually doesn't work too good. I think momentum is your next day's pitcher.
Kate Upton: As her supposed boyfriend, Justin Verlander, was melting down on the mound, the curvy model's name began appearing in our Twitter timeline.
Left Field: If not for two spectacular diving catches by Giants left fielder Gregor Blanco, then perhaps Barry Zito's night is a bit less memorable. Perhaps no position shows a starker contrast in the defensive talent between these teams. Blanco is in left for the Giants and has a vacuum where his glove should be. Meanwhile, Delmon Young is playing in deep left for the Tigers, seemingly so afraid of having the ball hit over his head that he's conceding everything in front of him.
Barry Manilow: From the FOX broadcaster that brought you Pandoval, it's "BAH-REE!.. BAH-REE!.. Manilow?"
Nudged: Did Angel Pagan help Jhonny Peralta's home run over the fence in the top of the ninth?
Orange October: The atmosphere at AT&T Park for Game 1 looked electric from afar and the raucous crowd was decked out in orange and black. With all those backs-to-the-wall wins, this is certainly beginning to look like a team of destiny. On the other hand, this could be just another "Rocktober." That was a terrific slogan for another terrific postseason run that ended without a World Series title.
Kung Fu Panda: If you know one thing about Game 1 then you know that Pablo Sandoval hit three homers, tying a single-game World Series record. Let's just say it one more time: Ruth, Reggie, Pujols and the Panda.
Quick Start: The team that wins Game 1 of the World Series has gone on to win 8 of the last 9 World Series. Of course, few teams have gone about refuting these sorts of trends like the 2012 Giants, who went behind 0-2 in the NLDS and 1-3 in the NLCS before roaring back to win those series. This stat probably also is influenced by the caliber of pitcher who tended to win those openers. Is Zito going to be able to keep on this hot streak?
Relief: While the Tigers were believed to hold advantages in starting pitching and offense over the Giants, relief pitching was considered a strength of the National League champs. It looked like it in Game 1, especially with Tim Lincecum working out of the bullpen. Left out of the starting rotation for the World Series, Lincecum took over for Zito in the sixth and retired all seven batters he faced. He struck out five of them. Not only was this a tour de force performance for the two-time Cy Young winner, but it rested the specialized relievers in the 'pen. At the other end of the spectrum, the Jose Valverde tailspin continued.
Marco Scutaro: Perhaps the Tigers need to bring in Van Helsing to retire this guy. The unlikeliest postseason hero this side of Raul Ibanez kept on raking in Game 1. He went 2-4 with 2 runs and 2 RBI.
Tools Of Excellence: Giants backstop Buster Posey notched two hits in Game 1 and drove in a run. The presumptive NL MVP was behind the plate last night and Giants fans can only hope Bochy keeps him there (and keeps Hector Sanchez on the bench or as the DH).
Underdogs: According to the oddsmakers and the baseball experts, the Giants were decided the underdogs entering this series. With an emphatic Game 1 win, however, they might be able to flip the script like two other memorable underdogs. In 1954, the Giants (still in New York) were facing a powerhouse Cleveland Indians outfit. But one epic catch by Willie Mays at the Polo Grounds helped the Giants earn a surprise Game 1 win. They would win the series in four games. Decades later in 1988, the Dodgers (having long left New York) were not a trendy pick against the mighty Oakland Athletics, but Kirk Gibson's iconic limp-off blast altered the trajectory of that series. Will Panda's three-homer night be remembered similarly?
Justin Verlander: The Detroit Tigers' ace may very well be the best pitcher in all of baseball. But he is developing a reputation for shrinking in big moments. After spending days talking about how this outing would be different than his ineffective effort in Game 1 of the 2006 World Series, Verlander was tagged for five runs on six hits over four innings of work. His career record in the Fall Classic stands at 0-3.
Brian Wilson: Perhaps hearing some of the complaints during the NLCS, FOX wasn't forcing shots of injured Giants closer Brian Wilson into the Game 1 broadcast as heavily as anticipated. Can they keep it up?
Xerox: If possible, the Giants would duplicate this effort to the inch: Steller starting pitching, breathtaking defense, shutdown relief from Lincecum and plenty of pop in the heart of the batting order. Sounds like a pretty good formula. But can it be duplicated? Panda is surely not doing this again. Can Zito?
Yakker: Zito's most devastating pitch has always been his curveball. He threw 16 of them in his 5.2 innings of work, including four as he worked in the sixth.
Barry Zito: The 34-year-old soft-tossing southpaw may not have quite earned his entire contract last night, but his 2012 postseason is erasing the hard feelings among the fans at a speed that his pitches would be envious of. The Giants are 3-0 in his playoff starts and had won his last 11 starts in the regular season. En route to his Game 1 win, Zito pitched 5.2 innings and allowed just one run while scattering six hits.
Note: Pitch speeds, types via MLB Gameday