SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – While most of the San Francisco Giants’ projected regulars were either off to join their World Baseball Classic teams or back in Scottsdale to take on the Chicago Cubs, Bruce Bochy sent another group to Surprise, where the Royals beat his road split squad 9-5.
While the lineup was littered with minor leaguers and non-roster invitees, Bochy sent one starter: Brandon Belt. Batting in the No. 3 spot, the Giants’ first baseman went 4-for-5 with his second home run in as many days.
With nine hits in 12 at-bats over his last three games, Belt is now batting .526 this spring.
The Giants took a 2-0 lead in the first when Hector Sanchez tripled in Joaquin Arias and Belt, who reached base with back-to-back one-out singles.
Boof Bonser, the one-time top prospect with the Giants now back with the team on a minor league contract, started in Surprise and struck out two in one scoreless inning of work.
The three pitchers that followed Bonser, however, combined to allow all nine Royal runs, eight of which were earned. Left-hander Michael Kickham turned in a 1-2-3 second inning, but struggled in the third. He gave up a two-out bases-loaded double to Eric Hosmer that scored just one thanks to an inning-ending play at the plate, courtesy of left-fielder Juan Perez, shortstop Wilson Valdez and Sanchez behind the dish.
Right-hander Chris Heston, the losing pitcher, relieved Kickham in the fourth and surrendered three Kansas City runs, two on a home run from Mike Moustakas. He came back out for the fifth and gave up three hits, a solo home run to Eric Hosmer and singles to Salvador Perez and former Giant Miguel Tejada, before giving way to Fabio Castillo.
Castillo recorded the last out of the fifth and made it through the sixth inning, but not before the Royals tacked on another four runs to make it 9-2.
Top hitting prospect Gary Brown hit a two-run home run in the seventh and Bochy’s son Brett pitched a scoreless inning with his father 40 miles away managing the other split squad to a 9-7 win over the Chicago Cubs.
Jose Valdez pitched a scoreless eighth despite three walks and the Giants tacked on a run in the ninth on Belt’s home run to right.
Joe Panik, the Giants’ first-round draft pick in 2011, saw his first Cactus League action after nursing a tight hamstring and went 0-for-1 with a walk.
With the win, the Royals remain the only unbeaten MLB team with an 8-0-1 record. The loss in Surprise coupled with the win in Scottsdale gives the Giants a 3-3-3 record.