Entering the World Series, the Kansas City Royals were undefeated in the 2014 postseason with a Wild Card win and sweeps over the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles. That all changed in Tuesday’s Game 1 World Series loss to the San Francisco Giants, 7-1.
Throughout the postseason, the Royals have gotten solid pitching efforts and scratched out enough runs. Neither happened on Tuesday, however, and Kansas City finds themselves facing their first series deficit in the 2014 playoffs.
As he has been the entire postseason, Giants ace Madison Bumgarner was again dominant. Bumgarner went a total of seven innings, giving up only a single earned run on three hits. He walked only one batter and struck out five to earn the win. He is now 3-1 in the postseason with a 1.40 ERA in five starts.
On the other side, Kansas City didn’t get any such effort from their starting pitcher, James Shields. Shields made it through only three innings, allowing five earned runs on seven hits.
Things started off poorly for Shields right off the bat. In the top of the first inning, he allowed singles to Gregor Blanco and Buster Posey before a Pablo Sandoval double scored Blanco. The Royals did get some help as Posey was thrown out at the plate, but the next batter, Hunter Pence, hit a two-run home run to give the Giants a quick 3-0 lead.
Shields recovered momentarily sitting the Giants down in order in the second and third innings, but again ran into trouble in the fourth. Pence was the culprit again, hitting a leadoff double to get Shields on the ropes. After a wild pitch and a walk, Shields gave up an RBI single to Michael Morse before being pulled from the game. His replacement, Danny Duffy, didn’t fare all that well, either, allowing three walks and two earned runs in three innings of work.
Pence and Sandoval had big games, collecting two hits and two runs batted in apiece. Pence also reached base twice more, drawing a pair of walks.
Meanwhile, the Royals’ bats were silent all night. Kansas City’s No. 2 through No. 6 hitters combined for only a single hit and no Royals player had more than one hit. The team’s lone run came on a Salvador Perez solo home run off of Bumgarner in the seventh inning.
It’s extremely early and for the Royals, far too soon to panic. The Giants, however, have to like their position for many reasons.
For starters, they will get at least one more start out of Bumgarner in the series. He’s been practically untouchable and is the best pitcher on either side, giving the Giants a clear advantage. San Francisco is also now assured of getting three games at home with the win as the series will move there for Games 3, 4, and 5. And with the 1-0 win, they, of course, only need to win three of the six potential remaining games. Finally, they have experience on their side with a significant amount of playoff success among the players on their roster.
It will be interesting to see how Kansas City responds since the team hasn’t come off of a loss in the postseason yet. With Wednesday’s Game 2 at home, it’s safe to say that they’re virtually in a must win situation since falling behind 0-2 before hitting the road would be a daunting task.
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