KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — By the time Madison Bumgarner took the mound to throw his first pitch, the San Francisco Giants already held a three-run lead.
It might as well have been 100 with the way MadBum and this orange-and-black bunch play in the World Series.
Bumgarner carried a shutout into the seventh inning, Hunter Pence homered early and the Giants showed off their October poise, putting a sudden stop to the Kansas City Royals’ perfect postseason roll by romping 7-1 in the Series opener Oct. 21.
“They’ve obviously been on a great run. You don’t get here without that,” Bumgarner said. “I think our team is concentrating on what they need to do, not what the Royals are doing.”
From the get-go, the Giants simply did everything right to win their seventh straight World Series game. There’s a reason they’re 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 center 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 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 Oct. 22 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.
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 left-hander 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 postseason 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.
Michael Morse hit 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 postseason streak of reaching base to 24 straight games.
Pence also doubled and walked twice.
“We’re ready to move on tomorrow,” Shields said. “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 postseason games. A slight misstep: Tim Lincecum, who hasn’t pitched this postseason, was delayed in the clubhouse and was late getting onto the field when the teams lined up before the game.
The Royals had won 11 straight in the postseason dating to their 1985 championship run, one short of the record held by a pair of New York Yankees clubs.
(BEN WALKER, AP Baseball Writer)