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Playoff Pinch Hits: Giants Hard To Beat After World Series Game 1 Win

By Sam McPherson

The San Francisco Giants like winning Game One of the World Series.

This is the fourth straight time now, dating back to 2002, the Giants have won the opener of the Fall Classic, and while it didn't work out for them the first time 12 years ago against the then-Anaheim Angels, it certainly set them on the right path in 2010 and 2012. Of course, 25 years ago, San Francisco did not win the first game of the 1989 World Series, as the Oakland Athletics went on to sweep the Giants that October.

So, yes, all in all, you'd rather win Game One than lose it.

Madison Bumgarner threw seven innings of one-run baseball, and the Giants scored three times in the first inning off James Shields on their way to a 7-1 win in Kansas City. This was the first time the Royals had lost a game this postseason.

Game Two is scheduled for Wednesday evening, again at Kauffman Stadium.

History Repeating for San Francisco

In 2010, the Giants used an 11-run outburst in Game One to jump-start the Series against the Texas Rangers in style. San Francisco's light-hitting offense came alive in Game Two as well, scoring nine runs in a shutout win. The Rangers never knew what hit them, really, as the Giants went on to win their first championship since 1954 in just five games.

Two years ago, Justin Verlander got out-dueled by Barry Zito in Game One — let that one sink in for a moment — as the Giants won Game One, 8-3 over the Detroit Tigers. Just like in 2010, San Francisco's opponent never really got it going, and was swept in four games while being outscored 16-6 and shut out twice.

Even back in 2002, the Giants jumped out to a 4-1 lead on their way to a 4-3 win in Anaheim. After taking the Game One advantage, San Francisco eventually went back to Southern California with a 3-2 Series lead for Game Six, and the team was just a handful of outs away from winning it all in that contest, before disaster struck.

This blowout win on Tuesday night looks a lot more like 2010 and 2012 than 2002, for sure.

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Royals Get Dethroned at Home

Kansas City managed just four hits against Bumgarner, a pitcher the Royals beat back on August 8. But in a matchup on postseason mojo against postseason mojo, the Giants came out on top this time.

Every Giants starter in the offensive lineup had a hit tonight, except National League Championship Series hero Travis Ishikawa. Meanwhile, a Royals lineup that had averaged more than five runs per game this postseason was held to just one: catcher Salvador Perez hit a solo home run in the seventh inning.

The Royals had only five base runners all night, which didn't give them a lot of opportunity to wreak havoc in their normal fashion, and they went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. Kansas City's best shot came in the third inning when they put runners on second and third with nobody out.

But two strikeouts and a walk later, Eric Hosmer grounded out to end the threat — and the possibility of a comeback, for all intents and purposes. The Giants scored two more runs in the top of the fourth to effectively put the game out of reach.

Game Two Outlook

The Royals already find themselves in a must-win situation, sending Yordano Ventura to the mound against San Francisco's Jake Peavy.

Peavy was a disaster last October for the Red Sox, giving up 10 earned runs in 12 2/3 innings in the postseason. But somehow, he's come to the Giants this postseason, and — like so many other journeymen before him in San Francisco uniforms — he's suddenly discovered a fountain of youth with the organization. He's given up just two earned runs in 9 2/3 innings this October for the Giants.

Ventura has been inconsistent this postseason, holding the Angels to one run in seven innings and then giving up four runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Baltimore Orioles. But his season-long effort -- a 3.20 ERA and a 125 ERA+ -- is significantly better than the numbers Peavy put up this year with the Red Sox and the Giants (combined 3.73 ERA and 100 ERA+).

On paper, the matchup still favors Kansas City, but we've seen the Giants pull so many "clutch" performances out of nowhere in the last few Octobers, it's hard to understand how and why they won't just do it again.

Get the odds on the World Series matchup.

Check out other Playoff Pinch Hits.

Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A's. His work can be found on

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