KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants put a sudden stop to the Kansas City Royals’ perfect post-season roll.
Bumgarner pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning, Hunter Pence homered early and the Giants showed off their October poise, shutting down the Royals 7-1 Tuesday night in the World Series opener.
“Our team is concentrating on what we’re doing, not what the Royals are doing,” Bumgarner said.
From the get-go, the Giants simply did everything right to win their seventh straight World Series game. There’s a reason Bumgarner and this bunch in black and orange are trying for their third title in five years.
“I can’t say I’m surprised by these guys,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
The Royals, meanwhile, looked nothing like the fresh team that had become baseball’s darlings by starting the playoffs with eight wins in a row — back on the field after a five-day layoff, their pitching, hitting and fielding all deserted them.
The fates seemed to change from the very first batter, in fact. Gregor Blanco led off with a soft line drive to centre field and AL Championship Series MVP Lorenzo Cain charged, then backed off as the ball fell for a single. It would’ve taken a near miracle to catch it, but that’s the kind of play the Royals had been making on a routine basis. Moments later, Pence’s two-run homer highlighted a three-run burst in the first inning against James Shields. Nicknamed “Big Game James,” he once again failed to live up to that billing and left in the fourth when the Giants made it 5-0.
“It just wasn’t my night tonight,” Shields said.
By then, Royals fans who had waited since 1985 for the Series to return to town had gone silent. Or, worse, they were booing while small “Let’s go, Giants!” chants echoed through Kauffman Stadium.
Just like that, what many figured would be a tight matchup had turned into a mismatch.
And it was a good omen for the Giants — the Game 1 winner has won 15 of the last 17 World Series.
The Royals will try to get even in Game 2 on Wednesday night when rookie Yordano Ventura starts against veteran Jake Peavy.
“We didn’t expect to come in here and sweep the San Francisco Giants,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. “We knew that this was a series that was going to go deep. We know how tough they are.”
Bumgarner added to his sparkling World Series resume, improving to 3-0 and extending his scoreless streak to 21 innings before Salvador Perez homered with two outs in the seventh.
“I would tell you I wasn’t thinking about it, but you know,” Bumgarner said. “There’s no way around it. You know. There’s so much talk about it. Obviously, a World Series game is not something you tend to forget.”
The 25-year-old called MadBum by his teammates was in trouble only once. Down 3-0 in the third, the Royals loaded the bases with a two-out walk and cleanup man Eric Hosmer stepped to the plate, but grounded out on the first pitch.
Bumgarner went on to stretch his road post-season scoreless streak to a record 32 2-3 innings as the Giants cruised. He pitched three-hit ball for seven innings, struck out five and walked one.
“He’s special. He’s got that flair for the spectacular,” Pence said. “He never makes it bigger than it is. He just gets out there and competes.”
Michael Morse, getting to play as the designated hitter in the AL park, had an RBI single that finished Shields, and reliever Danny Duffy walked Blanco with the bases loaded.
Rookie Joe Panik hit an RBI triple that bounced past usually reliable right fielder Nori Aoki in the seventh and scored on a single by October force Pablo Sandoval. The MVP of the 2012 World Series triumph, Sandoval also had an RBI double in the first that extended his post-season streak of reaching base to 24 straight games.
Pence also doubled and walked.
“We’re ready to move on tomorrow,” Shields said. “We’re upbeat. This team came in here and said, ’We’re going to get them tomorrow.’ We have a lot of positive attitude right now, we’re tracking at an all-time high. We just faced a good pitcher tonight.”
Before the game, the mood at the ballpark was positively giddy. Ushers greeted fans with “Welcome to the World Series!” and some hot-dog vendors high-fived each other behind the counter.
Yet the Giants wrecked that fun, and won for the 16th time in their last 18 post-season games.
The Royals had won 11 straight in the post-season dating to their 1985 championship run, one short of the record held by a pair of New York Yankees clubs.
But it was clear from the start that this would not be their night, and not even the little things went well.
Early in the game, Kansas City third base coach Mike Jirschele retrieved a foul ball and tried to flip it into the stands. Instead, his toss fell well short of reaching the seats.