SAN FRANCISCO -- The Detroit Tigers had five days off before starting the World Series, then played Wednesday's opener as if they could have used a sixth.
Ace Justin Verlander was clearly off, and the Tigers mustered little response to the magical night of the Giants' Pablo Sandoval in an 8-3 Game 1 loss at AT&T Park.
The issue for the Tigers is how they rebound after seeing Verlander, who brought a 0.74 postseason ERA into the game, serve up two of Sandoval's three home runs and leave after just four innings.
"It's very surprising, just because we're used to him being excellent every night," Detroit first baseman Prince Fielder said. "But that's why baseball isn't fun sometimes. You put your best player out there and he might not get it done. It happens. It's part of the game."
The Tigers, to a man, said the layoff from the time between their American League Championship Series sweep and the start of the World Series didn't have a negative effect.
"It's the World Series," Fielder said. "You could take a month off and your mind would get back into it. We just got beat."
Center fielder Austin Jackson said the Tigers will be ready to bounce back in Thursday's Game 2, as they send right-hander Doug Fister to the mound to oppose Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner.
"We do a pretty good job of putting games behind us and not getting too down about it," Jackson said.
But with the Giants not pitching their top starters, Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain, until Games 3 and 4, respectively, opportunity seemed to knock for the Tigers to take the quick upper hand.
Instead, they fell behind 6-0 after five innings and had no luck breaking through against the soft-tossing Barry Zito.
He held the Tigers to one run on six hits over 52/3 innings.
Perhaps just as important was that the Giants' Tim Lincecum relieved Zito and completely silenced Detroit hitters. He didn't allow a base runner over 21/3 innings and struck out five of the seven hitters he faced.
It's the type of dominant outing that Tigers hitters aren't likely to forget if they see the two—time Cy Young winner trot in from the bullpen again.
Jackson was facing Lincecum for the first time and was impressed.
"He's tough," Jackson said, "especially for guys that hadn't seen him before. He has nasty stuff, and you just gotta battle against a guy like that."
As if Detroit wasn't struggling enough, the Tigers had some quirkiness working against them, too.
Verlander had two outs in the bottom of the third when Angel Pagan's bouncer hit the third-base bag and shot into left field for a double that opened the gates to a three-run Giants rally.
Fielder was asked how damaging Pagan's wacky double was.
"Pablo's three homers might have hurt more," he cracked.