SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Back inside the clubhouse, the Kansas City Royals gathered in a circle and doused bench coach Paul Hoover in a celebratory beer shower for his first managerial win.
Hoover is guiding the Royals with manager Matt Quatraro away from the club after testing positive for COVID-19, and the Royals sure needed this moment of joy. Kansas City hit the road from a difficult season-opening homestand and found some momentum against the slugging San Francisco Giants.
“It was cold, lost my breath, but it was cool that everybody got together to celebrate just a team win,” Hoover said.
Vinnie Pasquantino hit his first home run of the season leading off the fourth, Salvador Perez connected in the eighth for his first of 2023 and a key insurance run, and the young Royals spoiled San Francisco’s home opener with a 3-1 victory Friday.
The Royals have been making plenty of hard contact, just not getting the results to show for it.
“The pitching has been doing a pretty good job all season so far. They’ve been doing a tremendous job,” Perez said. “As the season goes on, we’re going to score some runs, and if the pitching keeps doing the same thing, it’s going to be a fun year.”
Nicky Lopez added an RBI single as the Royals backed right-hander Brad Keller (1-1) in just the second win so far for Kansas City, which had lost three straight and went 1-6 at home for just the second time beginning a season.
“Faith’s very high,” Pasquantino said. “We believe in each other. We believe in ourselves. It’s as simple as that.”
Blake Sabol hit an RBI single for San Francisco on what began as a rainy start to the day at Oracle Park. The tarp went on overnight but came off about 10 a.m., and both teams were able to work out on the field before the game after long travel days Thursday.
Giants right-hander Alex Cobb (0-1) struck out six over seven sharp innings, but he didn’t get enough run support from a club that was leading the majors with 15 home runs to start the day.
“We’ve got to do a better job of being more consistent,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I think that starts with just looking for pitches that we can drive and then not missing those pitches on days like today.”
In his first career start against San Francisco — which has yet to face a National League opponent given the new schedule format — Keller struck out three and walked three while allowing three hits over 5 2/3 innings. Aroldis Chapman pitched the eighth, and Scott Barlow surrendered a leadoff triple to Joc Pederson in the ninth before finishing for his first save after a career-best 24 last year.
Former Giants third baseman Matt Duffy received a warm ovation during pregame introductions and singled for the Royals before making a sensational catch on Thairo Estrada’s sharp line drive for the second out in the ninth to save a run.
“Nice to quiet a crowd,” said Duffy, who still greatly appreciates the Giants’ crowd.
The Giants dropped to 40-26 in home openers since moving West from New York in 1958, including 16-8 in their waterfront ballpark that opened in 2000.
WHAT A PITCH
Longtime Giants equipment manager Mike Murphy, who just retired, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Brandon Crawford, while newly retired reliever Sergio Romo announced “Play Ball!” to wild applause.
Giants: Roberto Pérez left the game with a right shoulder strain. … SS Crawford, who dealt with discomfort in his left knee during spring training, was better and in the lineup, but Kapler said he’s “not sure Craw will ever be 100%.” … Kapler said OFs Mitch Haniger (left oblique strain) and Austin Slater (strained left hamstring) won’t play this homestand.
LHP Sean Manaea (0-0, 13.50 ERA) makes his first start for the Giants after pitching two innings of relief against the White Sox on Monday at Chicago and giving up three earned runs on two hits with a homer.
RHP Brady Singer (1-0, 1.80) takes the mound for the Royals after pitching Kansas City to its first win Monday against the Blue Jays.
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