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Giants place broom quietly back in cupboard

Brandon Crawford’s milestone 1500 game as a San Francisco Giant didn’t go as planned...

Brandon Crawford commits an error in the first that leads to two runs for the Kansas City Royals Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants dropped their 5 game win streak with a 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday afternoon.

It was a sleepy series overall after the adrenaline-pumping weekend against the Dodgers. Oracle Park felt quiet with its attendance halved, most fans with one eye on their phones on Monday as the Golden State Warriors took game 5 over the Boston Celtics a couple blocks down the road. But these three games were no gimmes—yet as Wednesday got underway, it felt like the Giants could possibly sleepwalk into another sweep against a developing Kansas City team.

Once again, they made it harder on themselves. Brandon Crawford’s 1,500 game in a Giants uniform kicked off with a misplayed grounder that led to two runs in the 1st.

Maybe the hop played hard off the ground. Maybe the hustle of MJ Melendez rushed him. Maybe the umpire obscured the ball just long enough to break his timing. Watching the replay I’m reminded of the Paul Simon lyric in “You Can Call Me Al”, third verse: “Doesn’t speak the language / He holds no currency / He is a foreign man…”

Maybe it’s just that: Crawford holds no currency when wandering the grounds left of second base.

I could write ‘maybes’ all evening—there are no real excuses and we shouldn’t spend our time searching for one. Brandon Crawford will certainly grasp for none—one doesn’t play 1,500 games at one position for one team if they spend too much time dwelling on errors.

Bright side (if you need one): it’s a good reminder that these kind of physical mistakes happen to players; a 10 year plus veteran, Gold Glover is no exception. Having an ostensibly friendly hop roll off his heel as he squares it up can make us beer league softball middle infielders feel slightly better about ourselves.

I’ve decided that silver-lining is tired—especially what we’ve seen from this defense in terms of what it can do and what it often fails to do. We could chalk this ‘L’ up to another gloved blunder. 2 unearned runs, Giants lose by 1—the math checks out. If Crawford makes the play, San Francisco ostensibly wins and stacks another sweep.

But we don’t want to Dave Roberts this one. We’re intellectuals up in the Bay. We understand that straight lines are rare even in sports. We do not fear nuance or gray areas. You can not outrun the fog.

Credit the base running by the Royals for squeezing every ounce of worth out of that 1st inning miscue. Credit Royals starter Jonathan Heasley for mixing in effective offspeed pitches with the often center cut four seam he threw. An ideal match-up for our fastball hungry lefties didn’t turn out as such. Complimented with a curve and change, 94 MPH had that much more zip and some pitches to drive were missed, foul-tipped, unsquared. Watching Wilmer Flores pull pitch after pitch just wide of the left field line before whiffing on a burrowing breaking ball was, yes, a bit maddening.

Credit manager Mike Matheny who saw an opportunity to boot Joc Pederson out of the game early and took it by playing his one left-handed reliever perfectly in the 5th. Pederson was swapped for Austin Slater who grounded into a fielder’s choice and Matheny could manage his bullpen the next four innings without having to worry about Pederson’s slugging percentage against righties.

This game was a good reminder that though there will often be elements of “wildness” in a game (citing the numerous dying but spirited quails that somehow found the safety of outfield grass as defenders battled sun and wind trying to field them), you have to play pretty clean baseball to win no matter who you’re against.

After the error, Sam Long and the rest of San Francisco’s bullpen buckled down and limited the opposing bats to goose eggs until the 8th. The Giants in the fourth were able to erase the deficit with a lead off home run by recently-deemed-seaworthy captain Brandon Belt. Thairo Estrada followed the shot with a walk, advanced to second on an aforementioned quail by Crawford, and scored the tying run on a Curt Casali sacrifice fly.

San Francisco was unable to replicate the situational hitting necessary to break the tie in the 7th. Luis González’s lead-off double went to waste after Mike Yastrzemski, Flores and Slater were unable to advance him on the base paths with productive outs or clutch hitting.

The Royals showed the Giants how it was done the following half-inning. A lead off double from Andrew Benintendi off John Brebbia became the winning run after a sacrifice bunt and fly. Kansas City did the small things in this game and the small things won it.

Though the series wasn’t a complete success, taking 2 out of 3 is what San Francisco needs to do to remain competitive in the NL West.

Off day tomorrow and then Pittsburgh.