Aug 8, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (35) walks back to the dugout after striking out with runners in scoring position against the Kansas City Royals during the second inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco Giants Lose Series Opener to Royals

The San Francisco Giants were able to get 12 hits tonight and Madison Bumgarner threw a complete game, but that was not enough as the Royals took game one of the series 4-2.

Prior to tonight’s ballgame the Giants sent Brandon Belt back to the seven day concussion disabled list and recalled Matt Duffy. Not good news for Belt or the Giants as Belt’s concussion symptoms have come back. Belt is expected to miss far more than the seven days given he is on the disabled list. This might be better motivation for the Giants to go after Alex Rios as I touched upon this morning.

In the first inning, the Giants were able to make a threat to score after Buster Posey singled with two outs and Pablo Sandoval reached on an error, but ultimately failed to score. In the bottom half of the first, Omar Infante doubled, followed by Salvador Perez lining out. Then the red hot Billy Butler came to the plate after having a great series in Arizona (6-12, four doubles and a home run). Butler ends up hitting a two run homer after Bumgarner throws a fast ball almost right down the middle on a 2-2 count. 2-0 Royals after the first inning.

In the second inning, the Giants were unable to score again with runners on base. Joaquin Arias led off the second by hitting just his third extra base hit of the season. Matt Duffy then singles moving Arias to third base. Now Juan Perez came to bat. On a 2-1 pitch, Perez hits a foul ball home run (missing the foul pole by about a foot), but on the very next pitch he strikes out swinging, followed by another strikeout from Brandon Crawford (Crawford is batting .179 (12-67) over the last month now, and over the past week, he is 2-24 .083). Angel Pagan ends the inning by flying out to center field.

After that first inning, Bumgarner looked like his normal all-star self for most of the game. In the top of the third inning, Hunter Pence lead off with a single. After Posey flied out to right field, Sandoval hit a single that advanced Pence to third base, or at least what it seemed like would advance him to third. Royals manager Ned Yost came out to challenge the play saying that Pence was out on the tag. After the replay review, the call is overturned and Pence is called out at third for coming off the bag while sliding as he was being tagged.

Now there are two outs and Sandoval at first. Morse hits a single followed by another double by Arias (4-6, two doubles vs Vargas in his career, and now only his fourth extra base hit of the season) and Sandoval scores, 2-1 now. The next batter Duffy hits his second single of the game and that scores Morse tying the game 2-2.

Meanwhile Tim Flannery waves Arias home but he is thrown out by Nori Aoki to end the inning. Cardinal sin there: Never make the third (or first) out at home.  The Giants went into this game knowing that all three Royals outfielders have great arms, as shown on their scouting report, but Flannery took the gamble and Arias was thrown out.

From innings four to six, it was all about pitching. In the sixth inning, the Royals went to the bullpen after Vargas had thrown over 100 pitches through five innings. Kansas City has some of the best pitchers in the American League. They are ranked third in the American League with a 3.62 team ERA. Once you reach the Royals bullpen, it’s next to impossible to score, as we saw tonight for the Giants.

The bottom of the sixth is really where the wheels started to fall off for the San Francisco Giants. After a two out single by Infante, Perez reaches on an error by Morse throwing to second base, immediately followed by a rookie mistake by Duffy who should have held the ball, and instead hurries a throw to first that almost goes into the stands. Infante then advanced to third base. Butler comes to the plate now and hits a single to right, Infante scores making it 3-2 Royals. The next batter, Gordon then singles to left field scoring Perez, and the Royals then lead 4-2, which ends up being the final score.

The San Francisco Giants offense remained quiet in the seventh inning before getting a couple singles in the eighth inning, but end up not scoring. The Giants went down in order in the top of the ninth, as Holland got his 33rd save of the season for the Royals.

Bumgarner pitched very well for what he had to pitch through given the defense failed him tonight allowing three errors. It appears the Giants defense is the Achilles of the team. The Giants defense ranks 11th out of 15. When a team is failing to score a lot of runs, the defense must be able to make plays to help the pitching and to not give up free outs that lead to free runs to the opposition, and for the most part this season, the Giants defense has been their biggest let down.

Bumgarner’s line for Friday night: 8.0 innings (complete game), seven hits, three earned runs, five strike outs, and one home run. Bumgarner is now 13-9 on the season.

Tomorrow Tim Hudson (8-8 2.74 ERA) will face the Royals James Shields (10-6 3.43 ERA) in game two of three of the series. Other Notes: The Brewers beat the Dodgers 9-3 tonight, so the San Francisco Giants will remain 3.5 games back in the National League West. The Giants are now in a three-way tie for first place in the National League Wild Card race.

Tags: Brandon Belt Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants

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