Early adversity becomes turning point for Giants 

click to enlarge The Giants' Buster Posey, right, is tagged out by Royals catcher Salvador Perez, left, as home plate umpire Jerry Meals watches. - ORLIN WAGNER/AP
  • Orlin Wagner/ap
  • The Giants' Buster Posey, right, is tagged out by Royals catcher Salvador Perez, left, as home plate umpire Jerry Meals watches.

It wasn't exactly a backs-against-the-wall moment, but the Giants did face a little bit of adversity in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday.

As has been the case throughout their remarkable postseason run, however, the Giants quickly recovered from the potentially deflating moment when Hunter Pence blasted a two-run homer, handing Madison Bumgarner a 3-0 lead before he had thrown a single pitch.

That was more than enough for MadBum, who once again proved unfazed by the biggest of October stages on the way to a victory that allowed the Giants to claim home-field advantage with a 7-1 win in the Fall Classic heading into Game 2 today in Kansas City.

And now we get to find out what these Royals are really all about. Losing their first postseason game in the wake of a ridiculous, electric 8-0 sprint to said stage represents a far more daunting dose of adversity then they've seen in quite some time, and their immediate response will tell you all you need to know about Cinderella's chances of getting jiggy with the prince at night's end.

Trying to score from first base on Pablo Sandoval's double and give San Francisco a 2-0 lead over the host Royals in the top of the first inning, Buster Posey was gunned down at the plate by a perfectly executed relay for the second out of the frame.

Buster Baseball is great at a great many things, but getting from Point A to Point B with exceptional expediency is not one of them. Sending Posey home, thereby challenging the Royals' grasp of the game's fundamentals, was an extremely rare mistake by Giants third base coach Tim Flannery, and Pence would have been excused for pressing at that point, perhaps rolling over on a ground ball to second base to end the inning.

Instead, he did what the 2014 Giants so often do. Poised and confident, he helped everyone wearing orange and black get over the flash of disappointment by flashing prodigious power. Bumgarner's recent history suggested that the game was all but over at that point, and it was.

Also over, by the way, is the use of "Big Game" in front of James Shields' name forever more. Gone from the proceedings by the fourth inning, Shields walked off with the postseason ERA hovering around 6.00.

That's about as deflating as it can get for these Royals, who have never been here before in more ways than one.

Never been to the World Series, never trailed in a series, never lost a freaking game.

How might they respond? That's the big question. Nobody knows.

Had the tables been turned, with the Giants dropping the opener behind their own ace, we all have a pretty good idea about how they would respond. They'd shrug it off, turn the page, and very likely recover in style from the potentially deflating moment.

There has to be an incredible comfort in that knowledge, and it's knowledge the Royals simply don't have.

Sure, it's only one game. And the Royals didn't get here without a considerable amount of fortitude.

But if their response to Tuesday's disappointment doesn't somewhat mirror Pence's response to Posey getting gunned down in the first inning, that one game -- rather, one loss -- will become two, and two will turn to four in a heartbeat.

That might sound overly dramatic, but come on. If there's one thing both of these two teams do quite well, it's drama with a capital D.

Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of "Inside the Bigs," which airs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon on KGMZ "The Game" (95.7 FM).

About The Author

Mychael Urban

Mychael Urban

Bio:
Mychael Urban has been covering Bay Area sports for 25 years and has worked for MLB.com, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and KNBR (680 AM).
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