Sandoval leads Giants over Verlander, Tigers in Game 1

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Sandoval leads Giants over Verlander, Tigers in Game 1

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) With three mighty swings, Pablo Sandoval put the San Francisco Giants ahead in this World Series and put himself in a class with Mr. October.

Sandoval hit three home runs and joined Reggie Jackson, Babe Ruth and Albert Pujols as the only sluggers to do it in the Series, and the Giants jolted Justin Verlander the Detroit Tigers 8-3 on Wednesday night in Game 1.

A rollicking AT&T Park crowd - a sea of black and orange outfits - roared as Sandoval connected in his first three at-bats. Popular in the Bay Area as the Kung Fu Panda for his roly-poly shape, he went 4 for 4 and drove in four runs. A Giant panda for sure.

Verlander, the reigning Cy Young winner so dominant in this postseason, looked uncomfortable from the get-go and constantly pawed at the mound.

The final score raised a nagging question for manager Jim Leyland and his favored Tigers: Did too much rest after a playoff sweep of the Yankees mean too much rust?

Tagged by Sandoval for a solo shot in the first inning, Verlander could only mouth Wow!' after the Giants star launched a two-run drive in the third. Sandoval reprised his power show from this year's All-Star game, when his bases-loaded triple highlighted a five-run first inning against Verlander.

And if there was any doubt that Verlander was shaky, the best sign came in the fourth. That's when pitcher Barry Zito, a career .099 hitter, sliced an RBI single with two outs off the current AL MVP for a 6-0 lead.

The festive crowd stood and applauded when it was announced that Verlander was being pulled for a pinch hitter in the fifth. Sandoval gave them another reason to get up moments later when he hit a solo homer off reliever Al Alburquerque in the fifth, answering the cheers by waving his batting helmet in a curtain call.

Pujols homered three times last year, Jackson accomplished the feat in 1977 and Ruth did it in 1926 and again in 1928.

For good measure, Sandoval lined a single his last time up.

From start to finish, it was basically a perfect game by the Giants. Coming off a Game 7 win over St. Louis on Monday night, they looked totally fresh.

Zito shut out the Tigers until Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera hit an RBI single in the sixth, and Tim Lincecum came out of the bullpen to prevent further damage.

NL championship series MVP Marco Scutaro hit RBI singles after doubles by Angel Pagan. NL batting champion Buster Posey contributed two hits and left fielder Gregor Blanco made diving catches to rob Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

Game 2 is Thursday night, with Doug Fister starting for the Tigers against Madison Bumgarner.

The Tigers seemed out of sync in their first game following a five-game layoff. That was an issue in 2006, too, when Verlander and his teammates had nearly a week off before getting wiped out by the Cardinals.

ALCS MVP Delmon Young failed to run after a tapper in front of the plate that the Giants turned into a double play. The Giants, meanwhile, kept getting good bounces, with Pagan hitting a double that hopped off the third-base bag.

Pitching in San Francisco for the first time since 2008, Verlander scuffed at the rubber while warming up for the first inning, pulled off his glove after badly overthrowing a curve and kept taking deep breaths. He hardly resembled the guy who was 3-0 with an 0.74 ERA in three playoff starts this year.

Ever since two poor outings in the 2006 Series against St. Louis - punctuated by two throwing errors - Verlander has worked hard to harness his emotions and 100 mph in the early going.

Verlander was trying to settle in when Sandoval tagged him, pouncing on an 0-2 fastball and lining it into the front row over the center-field wall. Quite a start for the team that finished last in the majors in home runs.

Get this: It was the first three-homer game at the stadium originally known as Pac Bell Park since the very first one, when Kevin Elster did it for the Dodgers in 2000. Nope, not even home run king Barry Bonds had done this.

It was certainly a moment of retribution of Sandoval. He was benched during the 2010 World Series, his production and confidence down, his weight up. In the stands on this night, fans wearing furry panda hats celebrated with him.

Verlander got into trouble again the third, and pitching coach Jeff Jones strolled to the mound when the count went to 2-0 on Sandoval. Verlander stared at Jones and shook his head. On the next pitch, Verlander could do little but watch the ball sail into the front row in left.

To some, this looked somewhat similar to the 2010 Series opener. That day, the Giants beat up the supposedly unhittable Cliff Lee on their way to a five-game romp over Texas.

This how got it bad for the Tigers: Former closer Jose Valverde made his first appearance in 11 days. Leyland still isn't what he'll get from the struggling reliever.

Lincecum, meanwhile, retired seven straight batters and struck out five of them. The two-time Cy Young winner has embraced his new role in the bullpen.

Jhonny Peralta hit a two-run homer for the Tigers in the ninth off mop-up reliever George Kontos.

NOTES: Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings was the only other player this year to homer twice in a game off Verlander. ... Willie Mays and fellow Giants Hall of Famers Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and Gaylord Perry took part in the first-ball ceremony. ... Tigers great Al Kaline, now a team executive, watched Detroit take batting practice from behind the cage. ... The Game 1 winner has won eight of the last nine championships. ... Cabrera and Posey marked the first set of batting champs to face each other in the World Series since 1954 when it was Mays of the New York Giants and Bobby Avila of Cleveland. When Cabrera walked on a close full-count pitch, he playfully patted the Giants' All-Star catcher on his way to first base. ... Tigers bullpen catcher Jeff Kunkel wandered the stands well before the teams took the field for warmups, snapping pictures of the stadium and field with his cell phone. ... The Giants franchise played its 106th Series game, trailing only the Yankees (225) and Cardinals (112). The Dodgers are fourth with 105.

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Report reveals details behind Kevin Wilson's departure from Hoosiers

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USA TODAY

Report reveals details behind Kevin Wilson's departure from Hoosiers

Indiana athletics director Fred Glass was vague during a Thursday press conference announcing the resignation of head football coach Kevin Wilson, citing "philosophical differences" between the two as the primary reason for Wilson's departure from the football program and refusing to get into specifics.

But new reporting from the Indianapolis Star's Zach Osterman revealed Saturday that multiple investigations and allegations of player mistreatment played a role in Glass' actions Thursday that led to Wilson no longer being the Hoosiers' head coach.

Reports throughout the day Thursday indicated this might be the case, suggesting a similar situation to what played out last year at Illinois, where Tim Beckman was fired a week prior to the start of the season after an investigation found support for claims that Beckman forced his players to play through injuries and held too much influence over the training staff.

Osterman's reporting revealed an investigation into the Hoosiers' football program in the spring of 2015 after a student-athlete left the program and his parents complained to the athletics department. The player, Nick Carovillano, sustained a back injury that the Indiana training staff did not take seriously enough, and it took an evaluation by Carovillano's hometown doctor to determine that he shouldn't be participating in football activities while injured.

Carovillano also said that Wilson's treatment of injured players was demeaning, not unlike some of the allegations at Illinois, where Beckman was said to have belittled injured players.

From Osterman's report:

"(Wilson) would come over and yell at us, saying, 'I’m paying $70,000 a year for you to sit on your ass,'" Carovillano said. "That happened about halfway through the season and carried on to the end of it. If you were injured, he just wanted to make you feel like crap. He just wanted to make you feel bad, so you basically would stop being injured."

...

"It just seemed like I wasn’t welcome there, and I was kind of considered a disappointment to them. I injured myself playing for them. I wasn’t starting at all. Everything I was doing was for the betterment of the team. You get injured, and the whole attitude changes toward you."

After Carovillano's parents made their complaints, Indiana launched an investigation into the program and found that there was no "inadequate" medical care. But Glass felt the need to tell Wilson to change his approach anyway, instructing the coach and his assistants to take a different attitude toward injured players. Glass also ordered the implementation of several changes involving the medical attention given to injured players.

Osterman reported that Glass was pleased with the changes Wilson made and considered the issues to be resolved. Wilson received a six-year contract extension in January, less than a year removed from the investigation into Carovillano's departure from the program.

But new issues popped up last month, according to Osterman's interview with Glass. This prompted another investigation, the results of which are not yet public knowledge. But given that this was not the first time such issues arose in Wilson's program, Glass felt it was enough and that a separation was necessary, that separation being Wilson's resignation.

Wilson resigned rather than getting fired, leaving an eyebrow-raising amount of money on the table. He will be paid his base salary of about half a million dollars for one year, but there was approximately $11 million left on his contract.

Tom Allen, who just completed his first season as Indiana's defensive coordinator, was named Wilson's permanent replacement Thursday evening.

Check out all the details in Osterman's report.

Blackhawks sign goalie with no NHL experience to serve as emergency backup

Blackhawks sign goalie with no NHL experience to serve as emergency backup

The Blackhawks were put in a rough spot on Saturday afternoon when goaltender Corey Crawford had to undergo an emergency appendectomy before their matinee matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers.

With Scott Darling as the lone goaltender on the active roster the Blackhawks signed Eric Semborski to an amateur tryout to serve as Darling's backup for Saturday's game against the Flyers.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Semborski, 23, has no NHL experience and last played club hockey at Temple University and for the Empire Junior Hockey Jersey Wildcats.

According to EliteProspects.com, Semborski had a 4.98 GAA and .844 save percentage in 29 games with the Wildcats.

Both the Blackhawks and NHL Twitter accounts had some fun at the expense of Semborski.