Justin Verlander was Bob Gibson-esque during his first three starts of the 2012 postseason, surrendering only two runs and posting a 25-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24.1 innings pitched. Last night, however, the Giants jumped the 2011 AL Cy Young and MVP for five runs and chased him after just four frames. What went wrong for the best pitcher on the planet in Game 1 of the World Series? Here's a quick rundown:
- Verlander fell behind hitters often, throwing a first-pitch strike to nine of the 19 batters that he faced (47.4%). During the regular season, Verlander's 61.1% first-pitch strike rate was comfortably above the 59.8% average for American League starting pitchers.
- He also caught too much of the plate. Verlander threw 29 of his 98 pitches (29.6%) to the horizontal middle of the strike zone, well north of his 19.9% average during the regular season.
Verlander's pitch location from Game 1 of the World Series
- San Francisco went 4-for-4 when Verlander left a pitch over the middle of the plate, with Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro, Buster Posey and Barry Zito (!) recording hits. Verlander's two-strike offering to Zito, a career .097 hitter, must have had Jim Leyland reaching for his Marlboros:
Where not to throw a two-strike pitch to Barry Zito