It's a beautiful night by the shores of McCovey Cove as the Giants return to AT&T Park to take on the Kansas City Royals in Game 3 of the World Series.
The pregame festivities started about 15 minutes ago and were highlighted by Major League Baseball's tribute to the late Tony Gwynn. MLB was roundly criticized for not doing the same at the All-Star Game. The video tribute was very cool.
Also, Paul Konerko, who just retired from the Chicago White Sox, and Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, a former Encinal HIgh School of Alameda star, were co-winners of the Roberto Clemente Award.
The teams are being introduced now — even Tim Lincecum was there. The Giants' quirky pitcher missed the Game 1 ceremony as he was vomiting in the locker room.
Unfortunately during the national anthem, one of the flag holders fell and the flag partially ripped near the middle. It could have been worse as the rip did not tear the flag completely apart.
Country group Little Big Town performed the anthem.
There was also a couple of moments honoring the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which interrupted the World Series between the Giants and A's at Candlestick Park before Game 3. It was 25 years and one week ago.
Tim Hudson, a 16-year veteran finally reaching the World Series for the first time, had an inauspicious start as the first pitch he threw was resulted in a double to Alcides Escobar, who was bunted to third and scored on Lorenzo Cain's groundout for a 1-0 Royals lead.
The Giants go down quietly in the bottom of the first, with Cain — shifted from center to right to get added defense due to AT&T Park's tricky right field — made a nice sliding catch on Buster Posey's liner to end the frame.
Travis Ishikawa, in the Giants' lineup primarily for his bat as Michael Morse apparently not ready to play left field, made a nice sliding catch going toward the line to rob Salvador Perez of a potential RBI as the Royals had a couple runners on. Hudson got out of that jam by inducing speedy Jarrod Dyson to hit a double-play grounder to shortstop Brandon Crawford.
Even without Morse, this seems to be a better Giants offense than the ones that won the 2010 and 2012 World Series. They have seemingly had pressure on the opposing pitcher in every game.
Hunter Pence continues to be an offseason force. He reached on an infield single, but then was thrown out trying to steal second. After Brandon Belt singled, another diving catch by Cain halted any further threat by the Giants, keeping it 1-0 Royals through two innings.
While the Royals have been lauded for their defense, the Giants are no slouches. Rookie second baseman Joe Panik made a nice sliding stop up the middle on Escobar and nailed the speedy leadoff hitter at first. That helped Hudson work a perfect top of the third.
Hudson may have been looking forward to his first Series at-bat. With one out, Hudson drove Dyson back several steps in center — not quite warning-track power — before Dyson made the catch.
Pence continued the defensive theme of the night by making a full-sprint grab going toward the intersection of the right-field wall and the line leading off the fourth on a fly by Cain, whose star power is taking off this postseason. Hudson again worked a 1-2-3 inning.
Jeremy Guthrie is the unsung star of the game so far, quietly pitching four shutout innings as the Royals still lead 1-0.
Hudson rolls through the top of the fifth, seeming to be doing what he wants to at the moment with the Royals' hitters. Guthrie counters with another perfect half-inning. The teams have two hits apiece as it remains 1-0 Royals through five.
Hudson had retired 12 straight before Escobar broke up that streak with a ground single to center. Alex Gordon then drilled a double to center that easily scored Escobar to make it 2-0. That made the contingent of Royals fans break out into a “Let's go, Royals!” chant that grew so loud Giants fans countered with “Let's go, Giants!” Hudson got Cain to ground out, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy took out Hudson in favor of a lefty-lefty matchup as he brought in Javier Lopez to face Eric Hosmer. It was Hosmer who won the battle, singling home Gordon to boost the Royals' lead to 3-0.
Knowing the Royals' three-headed bullpen monster awaits, Crawford led off the bottom of the sixth with a single. Morse came on to pinch-hit and, after crushing a ball foul, lined a double down the left-field line to score Crawford. That ended Guthrie's day as Kelvin Herrera came on to face Gregor Blanco, who walked. Panik's chopper back to Herrera moved Crawford and Morse up a base. Buster Posey had an RBI grounder to pull the Giants within 3-2. Herrera retired Pablo Sandoval, setting up late drama.
Sergio Romo came on for the seventh and allowed a two-out single to Dyson. Curiously, Royals manager Ned Yost, who used to manage in the National League with the Milwaukee Brewers, allowed Herrera to hit, hoping to get another inning out of him.
Pence drew a leadoff walk and Herrera struck out belt before Yost brought in rookie lefty Brandon Finnegan, who also pitched in the College World Series this year, making him the first player to accomplish that feat. Juan Perez pinch-hit for Ishikawa, the hero of the NL Championship Series for his clinching homer. Perez flew out to left and Crawford struck out.
The chess game is on from here. After Romo got the first out of the eighth, Bochy pulled a double-switch with Jeremy Affeldt coming on to pitch, but he also curiously took out slick-fielding Crawford in favor of Joaquin Arias, perhaps trying to maximize Affeldt's innings. It worked in the eighth as Affeldt got a flyout and a groundout to Arias.
The public-address system on cue pumped out “Don't Stop Belivin'” before the bottom of the eighth. Arias struck out and Blanco put down a bunt, but Perez hopped on it quickly and gunned down Blanco at first. Panik had a check-swing strikeout, leaving up to the heart of the order to produce some ninth-inning drama.
Affeldt stayed on for the top of the ninth and retired the first two Royals before Casilla came on and recorded a strikeout.
The Posey, Sandoval and Pence due up in the bottom of the ninth. Greg Holland, who hasn't blown a save since July, got Posey to fly to left, Sandoval to weakly ground back to the mound Pence on a sharp grounder to the mound.
The Giants suffer a rare World Series loss at AT&T Park and fall behind in the series 2-1. They will try to even the series Saturday at 5:07 p.m.