KANSAS CITY — Bruce Bochy has missed two games the past two seasons because of minor heart issues.
Last August, Brandon Crawford’s seven-hit game led the Giants to a 14-inning win over the Marlins. On Tuesday it was the other middle infielder, Joe Panik, who got the big hit in an 11-inning win over the Royals.
Panik drove Nick Hundley in with an RBI single just under a diving Lorenzo Cain’s glove in the top of the 11th and the Giants held on for a 2-1 win in their return to Kauffman Stadium. Both teams spent the later innings wasting promising rallies until Panik’s liner touched grass a couple inches away from Cain’s glove.
The night was a pitching duel from the start. Two games after watching Tyler Chatwood flirt with perfection, the Giants struggled to get in gear against Jason Hammel. The former Cub retired the first 12, but Matt Cain was up for the challenge. He worked around some trouble in the first and then cruised into the fifth.
Earlier Tuesday, infielder Whit Merrifield told reporters about facing Madison Bumgarner when he was 11 years old and getting drilled in the head. He fared better against Cain, poking a homer the other way to give the Royals a 1-0 lead in the fifth.
The Giants struck right back, tying the game when Hunter Pence’s two-out single to right brought Panik racing in from second. Buster Posey, playing for the first time in a week, appeared to have given the Giants the lead when he hit a ball up the middle that Raul Mondesi couldn’t field cleanly. Brandon Belt raced around second but he was out by inches when Sal Perez snow-coned the throw home and put a perfect tag down.
The Giants had a chance to go ahead in the seventh when Crawford reached third with no outs, but Hundley and Chris Marrero struck out and Denard Span grounded out. In the eighth, it was the Royals who threatened. They nudged the go-ahead run to third but Steven Okert got the Giants out of the inning.
The Royals left a runner on second in the bottom of the ninth. The Giants countered by leaving one on second in the top of the 10th. The Royals wasted two singles in the bottom of that inning and two more in the 11th.
Starting pitching report: That’s two good ones in a row for Cain. His last two starts: 12 innings, two earned runs, nine hits, five walks, nine strikeouts. He threw just 86 pitches Tuesday.
Bullpen report: Derek Law got a well-deserved win after throwing two scoreless innings of relief. Mark Melancon picked up his third save.
At the plate: Posey had three singles on his first night back from the concussion DL, raising his average to a cool ..385.
In the field: In case you had forgotten over the past three years, the Royals have an excellent outfield that will annoy the hell out of you if you root for the other team. Cain made it look way too easy while chasing down a Hundley liner in the fourth and another in the ninth, and Alex Gordon made a tremendous diving catch to rob Marrero in the sixth.
Attendance: The Royals announced a crowd of 20,863 human beings who didn’t seem to have any hate for the Giants. That 2015 title worked some magic.
Up next: Bumgarner will make his first appearance at Kauffman Stadium since the night he won a free truck with technology and stuff.