SAN FRANCISCO - Justin Verlander conceded he was "out of sync" in the opening game of the World Series but the Detroit Tigers ace was unable to pinpoint the exact cause of his rare off night.
Whatever the reason, the right-hander widely considered to be the game's best pitcher gave up two of Pablo Sandoval's three homers in the San Francisco Giants' 8-3 rout at raucous AT&T Park on Wednesday.
Verlander, a five-time All-Star and former Cy Young Award winner, surrendered five runs on six hits in just four innings before being yanked from the game by Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
He maintained his sense of humour, however, standing on a chair away from the throng of reporters waiting for him at his locker, and saying, "So who are you guys waiting for?"
Verlander knew early on it was going to be a rough outing.
"I didn't execute tonight," he said. "It was a battle for me from the get-go and they took advantage of that. They swung the bats well."
Since the Tigers swept the New York Yankees in four straight games in the American League Championship Series, they had not played since last Thursday.
Verlander refused to blame rust for his sub-par outing.
"I know I was a little bit out of sync," he said. "Whether that was the layoff or just being out of sync, you can't expect to be perfect every time.
"If we were off five days or nine days, I might have been out of sync either way. I don't know."
Leyland said to "give the Giants credit" for shellacking Verlander but warned not to look too much into one game.
"This was a big hyped game with Justin, probably a lot of pressure on him," he said. "But I don't think it had anything to do with the pressure.
"His fastball command was not good, he got out of sync, he got on fast forward. He just did not pitch well tonight, it's that simple."
The first homer by Sandoval was on an 0-2 pitch and before Wednesday, Verlander had only given up a homer on that count five times in his eight-year major league career.
Sandoval's second shot off Verlander was on a 2-0 pitch.
"The first one he hit was a fastball I tried to elevate," Verlander added. "And it was not elevated enough. The second one was a 2-0 fastball, it was actually a decent pitch.
"I was getting a lot of run on my fastball... In these types of situations you really don't have time to rein it back in and try to figure it out. You have to try to get outs as best you can."
Verlander said fellow starters Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer had been outstanding in the postseason and warned that the best-of-seven series was far from over.
Fister will face the Giants' Madison Bumgarner on Thursday in the second game of the Fall Classic at AT&T Park.
"Is it disappointing? Yeah. Would you have liked to win Game One? Absolutely. But I don't know if you guys have been watching but the three guys behind me have been doing pretty doggone well as well," Verlander said.
"It's not the end of the world by any means. There's nobody in here hanging their heads."
He called Sandoval's three-homer night "impressive."
"I wish I hadn't contributed," he said softly. (Editing by John O'Brien)