The mood in Kansas City this week might feel like 1985, the last time the Royals were in a World Series, only without quite as much Wham! music. But a closer comparison is probably San Francisco in 2010. The locals are giddy, happy, bubbling with disbelief and joy over their team's astonishing run to the Fall Classic.
The whole town is turned blue, from the fountains in the Plaza to the shirts everyone is wearing to the bright cloudless sky above the city. George Brett jerseys are back in fashion.
Outside Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday, the tailgating was in full Kansas City form: barbecue and brisket and burnt ends. Inside, “the K” was completely sold out: tickets had been going for $1,000 and standing room only spots were being sold on StubHub for $450. Only a handful of Giants fans were obvious among the 40,459. The Royals fans were so revved up that their cheers during introductions drowned out the fireworks.
And then the game started.
In the top of the first, Hunter Pence hit a two-run home run to give the Giants a 3-0 lead and suck the life out of the deafening stadium.
Was he aware of how quiet it got?
“It was really loud in my head,” Pence said.
And it was really loud in the Giants dugout. They were handing ace Madison Bumgarner a three-run lead. Though the game lasted another three hours and 20 minutes, it was, in effect, over right then.
It’s what they do
This is what the Giants do. They are masters at killing momentum and squashing dreams. At silencing opposing crowds. They're downright clinical about it.
They did to Kansas City what they did to St. Louis, Washington and Pittsburgh earlier this October. What they did to Detroit in 2012 and Texas in 2010.
Beat them up. Steal their mojo. Turn their rocking ballparks into the public library.
“It's only one game,” warned Buster Posey, always the voice of reason and sanity.
That's true. But the team that has won the first game of the World Series has gone on to win 15 of the last 17 (however, the 2002 Giants were one of the pair that didn’t).
We've seen this movie before: Bruce Bochy's team crawls into the playoffs, tortures its way through the first series and then puts the hammer down in the World Series. They won Game 1 in both 2010 and 2012. And those seasons ended with parades down Market Street.
The Giants turned the Royals home field advantage into a non-factor.
“It makes it a lot easier that every single game we play at home is like this or louder,” Bumgarner said. “I mean, it's like this every day for us.”
The ballpark wasn't the only thing the Giants silenced.
The Royals eight-game October winning streak? Bumgarner pulled the plug on that. The 25-year old, pitching in his third World Series game, extended his streak of shutout World Series innings to 21 innings before giving up a home run in the bottom of the seventh to Salvador Perez. He allowed the Royals three hits.
The Royals comeback ability? The magic that knocked the A's out of the Wild Card game, even with a four-run lead with six outs to go? That too was missing in action. The best the Royals could do against Bumgarner and the Giants bullpen was the solo home run. By the eighth inning even those loyal Royal fans were leaving the ballpark, apparently out of hope.
The Royals feared running game? There were zero stolen bases. Bumgarner and the relievers appeared to take the advice dispensed by cagey veteran Tim Hudson earlier in the week. He had a solution. “Just don't let them on base,” Hudson cracked.
“Well, that helps,” Posey said.
Roughing up Shields
Right from the start of the game, the Giants knocked around Royals starter James Shields just as hard as they hit Detroit's Justin Verlander in '12 and the Rangers' Cliff Lee in '10. The Game 1 aces the Giants have faced in their three recent World Series appearances have a combined 12.34 ERA against the Giants.
Pence's home run came despite having an 0-for-11 regular season record facing Shields. Just more evidence that what happens in the regular season doesn't mean anything in October when it comes to the Giants.
Who could have predicted back in August that the Giants would meet the Royals in the World Series and would maul them in Game 1? Back then, the Giants looked inept, were swept, and Shields dominated them.
Lesson: August Giants aren't October Giants.
Bumgarner was masterful.
“He was dynamite,” said Royals manager Ned Yost.
Even navigating a tricky third inning didn't bother Bumgarner who – according to Bochy – “doesn't get flustered.” In fact, Bumgarner said that facing strikeout situations with runners on base, is one of his “favorite things.” Most 25-year olds really like to play video games or go snowboarding, not have to strike out runners in the World Series.
Everything worked for the Giants in Game 1. The defense was stellar. Pablo Sandoval continues to earn his Señor Octubre title, with a two-hit two-RBI night. The bullpen was flawless.
And, as long as you weren't inside Pence's head, the silence was deafening.
Ann Killion is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: email@example.com