SAN FRANCISCO -- It's not time to panic yet, Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt said on Friday night after his club lost Game 3 of the World Series to the Royals, 3-2, at AT&T Park.
For the second consecutive game, the difference was the bullpens. The Royals did enough to hold the lead and the Giants 'pen did not, as left-handed specialist Javier Lopez allowed a sixth-inning single to Eric Hosmer that scored a runner inherited from starter Tim Hudson, and that was enough for Kansas City to take a 2-1 Series edge.
"I don't think panic is something we want to do," said the left-handed Affeldt, who retired the four batters he faced as the third of four Giants relievers. "We have to win a ballgame, and we have to figure out a way to win a ballgame. It's obviously easier said than done. We have to go out and try to win a game tomorrow, and that's very simple."
For the second consecutive game -- both losses -- the Giants were outpitched, and it's that simple.
On Wednesday night during Game 2 in Kansas City, a 2-2 game in the bottom of the sixth inning turned into a 7-2 Giants loss. In that one, starting pitcher Jake Peavy had retired 10 batters in a row heading into the sixth, when a single and a walk opened the door for the Royals. Jean Machi replaced Peavy and allowed what turned out to be the game-winning single. Hunter Strickland then surrendered a two-run double and two-run homer. End of story.
On Friday night, Hudson went into the top of the sixth trailing just 1-0. With one out, Alcides Escobar singled and Alex Gordon drove him in with a double. After Lorenzo Cain grounded to third for the second out, Giants manager Bruce Bochy lifted Hudson in favor of Lopez to face a pair of lefty-swinging hitters: Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. At that point, the 39-year-old Hudson had only thrown 76 pitches and still felt strong.
"If I'm tired after 76 pitches, I'd probably have to re-evaluate what I'm doing out there," Hudson said. "I still felt fine. I still felt good. It was a nice cool night. But in that situation there you have to match up from that point on. You can't let any more runs come in. You've got to cut down all the runs you can at that point. If you give up three or four runs to these guys late in the game, with their bullpen, it's going to be a pretty tough job for you."
As it turned out, Lopez had his hands full with Hosmer. He had two quick strikes in an 11-pitch at-bat that ended when Hosmer drilled an 86-mph full-count fastball for a run-scoring single to center. That made the score, 3-0. And when the Giants came back in the bottom of the inning with two runs off Kansas City starter Jeremy Guthrie, the Hosmer single wound up being the game-winner.
"[Hosmer] did what he's done all postseason, he put together a great at-bat," said Lopez, who wound up striking out Moustakas swinging to end the inning. "He made me get to a full count and when I had to throw that pitch over the plate to try and hit the corner, if anything he just stayed on it and stayed through it and that's what a good hitter does. There was a 2-2 pitch in there that was close. I haven't seen the video, but I know it was close. To his credit he took it, so obviously it couldn't have been that close."
Here was the difference: Right-hander Kelvin Herrera came in to replace Guthrie with a runner on second, none out and a run already in. He walked Gregor Blanco, putting runners on first and second. Two groundouts scored the second run and advanced Blanco to third. Pablo Sandoval grounded harmlessly to first, ending what turned out to be San Francisco's final threat.
The Giants' bullpen matched the Royals for the remainder of the game. Both teams had one more baserunner. The Giants' bullpen was good, just not as good as the Royals.
"We both gave up inherited runners today," Lopez said. "They pitched well. We know that's a strength. That's something we covered. They're a great team. We know that. They can shorten the game with the best of them. We had our opportunities and we just didn't capitalize. But I don't think anybody is hanging their head for that reason."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.