SAN FRANCISCO -- Pablo Sandoval did much of the damage for the Giants as they roared off to a rousing start in this World Series, but hitting coach Hensley Meulens called Marco Scutaro's third-inning at-bat the biggest of the game.
It came during a tough sequence for Tigers ace Justin Verlander in which, with two out, Angel Pagan battled Verlander for eight pitches before poking a double off of the third-base bag, and Scutaro battled Verlander for another eight pitches before rapping an RBI single to make it 2-0.
Had Verlander been able to beat either Pagan or Scutaro, the inning would have ended before Sandoval cracked his second homer.
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Verlander had Pagan in a 1 and 2 hole, but the pesky Pagan fouled off five pitches during the at-bat.
"I was battling," the Giants' unlikely October star said. "I was just telling myself to see the ball.
"He's a guy who is a power pitcher, knows how to pitch and can throw any pitch at any time. He was throwing me two-seamers hard, sliders, curves. Fortunately, he threw me a slider at 3 and 2 that he hung over the plate."
With Pagan on second and two out, Verlander started Scutaro with a blazing 96 mph four-seamer for a ball, then followed that with another that Scutaro fouled off.
Then came a slow curve, 82, for another ball, followed by another curve, this one at 83, for a called strike.
Next, Verlander threw a big curve in the dirt for a ball to fall behind 3 and 2.
That, Scutaro said, was the key pitch of the entire at-bat.
"He threw that big curve, and it was like, boom, boom ... it was a 12 to 6, and it was sharp," Scutaro said. "It was so nasty, I couldn't even swing at it. It was down. It was a great pitch."
Had it stayed in the strike zone, it would have been an even greater pitch for Verlander, because it would have been strike three and he would have been out of the inning with the score still 1-0 in San Francisco's favor.
Instead, it was ball three.
Now, Scutaro was thinking one thing.
"Just see the ball and make contact," he said.
Here is where he fought off consecutive 98 mph fastballs, fouling both of them away.
Then came a slider that Scutaro could handle. He scorched it up the middle, sending Pagan home and bringing Sandoval to the plate.
The game had changed. Verlander now was living on borrowed time.
He's tough to hit," Scutaro said. "I guess his command was not good tonight, but his stuff was unbelievable."