SAN FRANCISCO -- You could list the mere four hits and the missed opportunities in Game 3 of the World Series, and Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens will rattle off his own list -- the litany of balls hit hard either right at someone or tracked down by the Royals' stellar defense on a Friday night of frustration for the home team's hitters.
The four hits plated two runs for the Giants, but two runs weren't enough in a 3-2 Royals victory at AT&T Park that gave Kansas City a 2-1 lead in the Fall Classic. That said, it wasn't a matter of approach or a lack of good at-bats that had the Giants' offense falling short Friday night, as far as Meulens was concerned.
"I thought we hit the ball pretty good, actually," Meulens said. "We had some line drives right at them, and we put the ball in play. That's what we ask for from our guys. We didn't find holes today a lot, so that's why the low score."
Yes, the Giants did put the ball in play. Evidence: Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie became the first winning pitcher in a World Series game since 1960, and the fifth overall, to record no strikeouts. When Lorenzo Cain, their regular center fielder playing right field in the National League park, wasn't making diving catches, the Giants were hitting the ball right at a Royals fielder. It was that kind of night.
Buster Posey, the team's RBI leader during the regular season, managed to drive home a run on a groundout in the Giants' two-run sixth inning, the other run coming on Michael Morse's pinch-hit RBI double. Other than that, Posey said the Royals' pitching and defense had a lot to do with the low-scoring affair on the Giants' side.
"They have great arms, top to bottom," said Posey, who hit a 96-mph sinker in on his hands from reliever Kelvin Herrera for the RBI groundout. "We hit some balls on the nose today and were a little unlucky, but they threw the ball really well."
With Posey also flying out deep to left in the ninth, the top four batters in the Giants' order combined to go 0-for-15 on the night. Leadoff man Gregor Blanco drew a walk but otherwise was unable to get anything going at the top, and Pablo Sandoval saw his streak of 25 straight postseason games reaching base safely come to an end. One of the Giants' three singles on the night was of the infield variety, Hunter Pence barely beating out a throw by Alcides Escobar after the shortstop made an amazing barehanded grab of the chopper in the second.
The Giants chalk it up to good pitching (and defense) beating good hitting on this night. The Royals brought their brand of ball into the NL ballpark and looked right at home, using their combination of strong mound work and glove work to eke out a huge win.
"I don't care if you're in the National League or American League," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "If you pitch well, you probably have a chance to win the game."
Said Meulens: "That's what you get in the postseason: The pitching silences the good bats. We just have to find a way to put this game behind us and scratch out some runs early [Saturday]."
Whether or not they'll be able to do that against left-handed starter Jason Vargas in Game 4, the Giants certainly like it when they jump out to a lead. Blanco's leadoff homer in Game 1 led to a 7-1 victory, and the Giants were among the teams most likely to win during the regular season when scoring first, going 65-18 (.783) in that scenario.
For Posey, getting back to even in the Series will be a matter of staying with the approach the Giants have taken throughout the postseason, not changing things up after a rough night at the plate.
"We believe we can put some pressure on them," Posey said. "Hunter had a great at-bat there in the seventh, drawing the walk. That's the main thing, just trying to continue to put pressure on them."
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.