Programming note: Giants-Royals coverage starts on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
There are certain baseball truisms that apply in every situation:
Keep your glove down on ground balls. Wait for your pitch. Strive for consistency. And never, ever waste a two-double game from Joaquin Arias.
The Giants did the latter in a 4-2 to the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Friday, dropping them to 0-5 in American League parks this season (and 2-13 over the last two years). Madison Bumgarner threw his third complete game of the year, and remarkably, he’s lost two of them.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Miscues cost Giants in loss to Royals]
Why did they lose? They made two errors on one play, setting up the Royals’ tiebreaking, two-run rally in the sixth inning. You have to execute to win, right?
First baseman Michael Morse, holding Omar Infante on the bag with one out, made a diving stop of Salvador Perez’s grounder and threw from his knees to second base. It floated a bit too much, but he angled it the way a first baseman is supposed to do it.
The problem was that the Giants played an infield shift with second baseman Matt Duffy positioned up the middle. So it was Duffy who took a throw that Morse led to the shortstop side of the bag. The Giants didn’t get the benefit of the neighborhood call, Morse was charged with a tough error – and then Duffy compounded the problem when he forced a throw to first base for another error that allowed Infante to take third base.
Billy Butler, who earlier had rocked Bumgarner for a two-run home run, chopped an RBI single that Morse might have fielded if he weren’t holding Perez on first base. Then Alex Gordon’s RBI single barely eluded left fielder Juan Perez, whose closing speed couldn’t make up for the slice on the ball.
They were the kind of breaks the Giants didn’t get. Hunter Pence was thrown out going from first to third when he slid so hard into the bag that his foot momentarily came off the bag. It was a huge out and led to one of several missed or minimized opportunities against Jason Vargas, who allowed nine hits and topped 100 pitches in five innings yet found a way to keep clinging to the ropes.
In the first two months of the season, the Giants would’ve knocked out Vargas, scored six or eight runs, and simply outhit their mistakes or a bad break or two. They haven’t been that team since the middle of June. Even with Angel Pagan back in the lineup, they still aren’t that team.
Can they be that team again? Well, that’s becoming less and less likely by the day. Although they started off this road trip in terrific fashion, they’re 4-4 now with two more to play in Kansas City. And they simply have not won consistently in AL parks for quite some time.
In addition to being 0-5 this year and 2-13 over the past two seasons in AL parks, they’re also 9-27 in these interleague road games dating back to 2010. They’ve won exactly two of 12 series in AL venues.
The good news: That doesn’t count a 4-1 record at Texas and Detroit in the 2010 and ’12 World Series. You can’t take those results away.
Nor can you take away those two Arias doubles -- even if the Giants buried themselves in a book while Halley’s Comet streaked overhead.