STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Well, the Kansas City Royals are no long undefeated in the baseball playoffs. They won eight straight games to make the World Series. Then in Game 1, at home last night, they scored but a single run. They were facing the San Francisco Giants Madison Bumgarner, who is establishing a reputation as one of baseball's best playoff pitchers. The Royals lost to the Giants 7-1. NPR's Tom Goldman is in Kansas City.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: It was a strange. After 29 years of missing out on the World Series, Kansas City fans' pregame seemed subdued. You could feel it, or actually not feel it, walking the upper concourse at beloved Kauffman Stadium. Sure, most fans wore Royals blue and some had T-shirts saying, party like it's 1985. But the party was hard to find. San Franciscan Chris Welch couldn't. He stood sipping a beer, wearing a Giants cap, a Grateful Dead T-shirt, orange Giants wristbands. He said he'd been treated well.
CHRIS WELCH: It's the Midwest. It's the heartland. People are so nice and welcoming.
GOLDMAN: But not particularly jazzed, the way KC fans have been during the Royals' charmed run through the playoffs.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Maybe it's a weeknight, you know? Maybe people just getting off work, and maybe we'll see what happens.
UNIDENTIFIED CHEERLEADER: Five, four, three, two, one. Make some noise.
GOLDMAN: Or maybe, they just needed the stadium cheerleader to give them a little jumpstart. After all, many were new to the World Series. And as the game got underway, another new experience - watching their express-train of a team come off the rails.
UNIDENTIFIED FANS: (Through chanting) Let's go Giants. Let's go Giants.
GOLDMAN: There was a party in section 302, one of the few pods of orange- and black-clad Giants fans. They started chanting in the first inning, when five San Francisco hits, including a two-run home run by outfielder Hunter Pence, staked the Giants to a 3-to-nothing lead. They kept going with two more runs in the fourth and two in the seventh. Each tick on the scoreboard gave starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner more confidence to do what he's been doing since 2010, when he pitched his first World Series masterpiece as a 21-year-old.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
MADISON BUMGARNER: It's just about going out and making pitches and executing, you know? I know it's a boring answer, but, for me, that's - that's all it is. It's - I'm just trying to make pitches and take all the other stuff and push it aside, and - and just concentrate on moving the ball around, getting ahead, getting outs, getting us back in the dugout.
GOLDMAN: All that other stuff he's trying to push aside - the pressure to keep World Series streaks going, like consecutive scoreless innings pitched, dating back to 2010. It reached 21 before Royals catcher Salvador Perez drilled a home run off Bumgarner in the seventh inning last night. Streak over, but duly noted in the press box. And despite his best efforts, noted by Bumgarner as well.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
BUMGARNER: I'm not here trying to set records and - and keep streaks going and - and or whatever. But, you know, you do know about it. You know, a World Series game is not something you exactly forget about, so.
GOLDMAN: Although, the Royals would rather forget about last night, a night when they didn't play their exciting brand of speedy small ball, poking hits and stealing bases and creating art on defense. They never got a chance, said manager Ned Yost, because of that lanky Giants lefty on the mound. Kansas City won't have to face him for several more days, as long as they can make it a series and force Bumgarner to pitch again. For a team that's shown great ability to come back when down during the playoffs, the Royals will try to mount their latest charge tonight in Game 2. Tom Goldman, NPR News, Kansas City.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.