It had been 29 years since the Royals last played in the World Series, and when James Shields threw the first pitch of Game 1 at 7:08 p.m. local time Tuesday, 40,459 voices were rocking Kauffman Stadium.
By the time Shields threw his 30th pitch of the inning, they’d grown much quieter.
The Giants jumped on Shields for three first-inning runs before knocking the Kansas City starter out in the fourth, and Madison Bumgarner kept a lid on the noise while continuing his mastery of postseason road starts with seven strong innings. The Giants won 7-1 to hand the Royals their first loss this postseason and seize the early Series advantage.
Bumgarner did not allow a run until the second-to-last batter he faced, catcher Salvador Perez, homered to left with two outs in the seventh. It is the only run Bumgarner has allowed in three career World Series starts, in which he is 3-0 with 19 strikeouts and eight hits allowed in 22 innings.
The left-hander has allowed just six earned runs in 382/3 innings this postseason, with the Giants winning four of his five starts. Tuesday, he scattered three hits and retired 13 of the final 14 hitters he faced. The 25-year-old already has more postseason wins (six) than any other Giants pitcher since 1900.
“He was dynamite,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “I mean, man, was he good tonight.”
A Billy Butler single in the second inning and a Mike Moustakas double in the third were the only hits Bumgarner allowed before Perez’s home run. It was the first run Bumgarner had allowed in a postseason start on the road in 322/3 innings – a major-league record – and snapped Bumgarner’s streak of scoreless innings in the World Series at 21. That’s the second-most by a pitcher to start his career, behind Christy Mathewson’s 28.
“That’s obviously pretty impressive, especially for such a young guy,” first baseman Brandon Belt said. “But he doesn’t seem like a young guy out there. He plays like a salty vet.”
Asked about playing defense behind Bumgarner on Tuesday, third baseman Pablo Sandoval grinned and said: “It’s like a vacation.”
Bumgarner’s scoreless streak first appeared in jeopardy in the third inning. Omar Infante hit a grounder that shortstop Brandon Crawford muffed, and Moustakas lined a double to right, giving the Royals men on second and third with nobody out. But Bumgarner bore down, striking out Alcides Escobar and Nori Aoki before walking Lorenzo Cain to load the bases.
Eric Hosmer, who hit a deep drive to center in the first inning that Gregor Blanco ran down for a pretty catch, swung at Bumgarner’s first pitch and hit a harmless grounder to Joe Panik to end the inning. Noting Hosmer had been aggressive on fastballs in his first at-bat, Bumgarner said, “I knew he was going to want to do some damage in that situation.” So he started Hosmer with a cutter, “and he rolled over it for us.”
“It was a huge relief for me,” Crawford said. “I would’ve felt terrible. But that’s what he’s done all year. If he’s ever gotten in trouble, he seems to figure his way out of it.
“They were gaining some momentum. It was huge for us to be able to cut that off.”
The Giants then took the momentum right back with three consecutive hits to start the fourth, with Michael Morse’s RBI single knocking Shields out of the game.
Blanco led off the game with a soft single to center and aggressively took second base as Panik flew out to deep center. Buster Posey lined a single to left, and Sandoval yanked a low pitch down the right-field line for a double that scored Blanco easily.
Third-base coach Tim Flannery, though, also waved Posey home, and the catcher was thrown out by plenty, giving Shields a chance to escape with minimal damage. But Hunter Pence crushed Shields’ full-count pitch an estimated 403 feet for a two-run homer, his first of the postseason and first since Sept. 20.
As the ball fell beyond the center-field wall, a pall seemed to descend on Kauffman Stadium.
“It was important, especially because this crowd is a little bit loud,” Sandoval said of the early offense before adding, “Not like San Francisco Giant fans.”
Sandoval – who extended his streak of reaching base in the playoffs to 24 games, the longest active streak in the majors, added an RBI single in the seventh and was one of fiveGiants to drive in runs.
Two would have been enough on this night, though, with Bumgarner keeping the Royals guessing for most of his outing, even getting Moustakas to swing at a 67-mph curveball for his final strikeout in the fifth. It was a new wrinkle from Bumgarner in his 39th start of 2014, counting the postseason.
“I think that’s part of his progression as a pitcher, is he’s been able to add and subtract with the offspeed,” Posey said. “To be able to command that, still, is impressive.”
One part, for the left-hander, of another impressive October night.