Hunter Pence couldn’t stay on the bag, the Giants couldn’t put the bat on the ball in a couple of key situations and the Kansas City Royals caught a very big break that might make bench coach Ron Wotus shove his infield spray charts into the nearest shredder.
The Royals took advantage of an infield shift and two errant throws to score the tiebreaking run in the sixth inning and the Giants fell to 0-5 in AL ballparks this season after a 4-2 loss at Kauffman Stadium on Friday.
Madison Bumgarner threw his second consecutive complete game, but lost a rare road start.
Starting pitching report
Bumgarner entered with a 9-2 record and 1.58 ERA on the road, but his scoreless innings streak away from AT&T Park ended abruptly after 17 when Billy Butler walloped a fastball for a two-run home run in the first inning.
Bumgarner (13-9) settled down and involved his defense after that, but there was a little too much involvement as the Royals scored a pair of soft runs to take the lead in the sixth inning.
Omar Infante singled and Salvador Perez followed with a grounder that Michael Morse, who was holding the runner on first base, was able to smother. Morse did the right thing as he threw from his knees, angling it around the left of the baserunner. But the Giants were playing an infield shift and so it was second baseman Matt Duffy who tried to receive the throw, and he umpires wouldn’t give him the neighborhood play. Morse received a hard-luck error and Duffy forced a throw to first base that skipped away for another error.
With runners at the corners and one out, Butler hit a tiebreaking single. Then Alex Gordon hit a fly ball that landed just out of Juan Perez’s reach in left field to bring home another run.
Bumgarner, who was coming off a 94-pitch complete game at Citi Field, went the distance again while throwing 123 pitches. Eight-inning complete games are seldom a good thing, though. He allowed seven hits, struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.
At least the bullpen got another rest on Bumgarner’s day to pitch.
At the plate
The Giants pushed Jason Vargas to throw nearly 30 pitches in the first inning, but left fielder Alex Gordon made a sliding catch to take a bloop hit away from Morse and strand two. The Giants threatened again in the second inning, putting runners at the corners with no outs but failed to score. Vargas used his fading changeup to strike out Juan Perez and Brandon Crawford, then Pagan flied out.
Joaquin Arias, who entered with two extra-base hits in 134 at-bats this season, equaled that total in his first two trips Friday. He doubled in that second inning to create an opportunity the Giants missed, then he laced a double down the third base line in the third inning to plate their first run. Matt Duffy followed with a tying single, but the third inning had to go down as a missed opportunity, too.
That’s because Hunter Pence was thrown out going from first to third when he slid hard into the bag, and there was a split-second between his foot slipping off and his hand grabbing the base. Third baseman Mike Moustakas kept his tag applied to Pence’s helmet the whole time, and it didn’t take long for that to be evident to the replay officials as the Royals won a challenge to reverse the safe call on the field.
It went down as an assist for right fielder Nori Aoki, and he wasn’t done. Aoki threw Arias out at the plate trying to score a second run on Duffy’s RBI single.
Prior to his errant throw, Duffy was having an impressive defensive game. He made an adept feed to start a double play, put down an impressive tag following a strong throw from Buster Posey to catch Alex Gordon trying to steal second base.
Although it didn’t cost the Giants a run, Brandon Crawford made his 17th error, matching him with Washington’s Ian Desmond for the most among major league shortstops.
The Giants and Royals continue their three-game series on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. Tim Hudson (8-8, 2.74 ERA) takes the mound against Royals right-hander James Shields (10-6, 3.43). First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. PDT.