Giants avoid Royals sweep behind Conforto’s late home run

San Francisco – The newly acquired San Francisco Giants outfielder Michael Conforto has always wanted to hit a home run at Oracle Park, especially as a member of the Giants. He accomplished that mission today.

With the game tied at one apiece, Conforto hit a no-doubt of a homer to right-center to complete the Giants rally with two outs in the eighth in the San Francisco’s 3-1 win over the Kansas City Royals this Easter Sunday, avoiding the weekend-long sweep.

“It felt amazing,” Conforto said. “Especially in that inning, the way it was all set up, to hit it off

(Royals pitcher Ryan Yarbrough), he’s a good left-handed pitcher, then also in this atmosphere with the home crowd, getting them fired up and showing some offense there. It felt amazing to be back and, just the reaction from my teammates and the fans, everything was great.”

Conforto’s go-ahead shot to right was the cherry on top of an exciting rally by the Giants in the eighth inning.

“You don’t necessarily get the big hit in a moment like this,” said Giants manager Gabe Kapler. “This was inevitable coming for Michael, glad he had a big one for us today.”

Bryce Johnson’s one-out single to left set up the rally in the eighth inning off Yarbrough. Then with two away, Johnson went to steal second base with Wilmer Flores at the plate. Flores lined a double down the third-base line and Johnson, who dove head first into second, got up and made a quick dash home, then dove head first toward home plate, just beating the tag from catcher MJ Melendez.

“Two pitches before that, we tried to steal also and we got good jumps,Conforto added. “When (Flores) hit that, I ended up getting a good jump to steal the bag then (Flores) hit it. Thank God it was down the left field line, so I had a good look at it, and once I saw it kick forward, I knew to kick it into another gear and we got a chance to score right there.”

He fired me up from the on-deck circle. It’s just an incredible play from such an athlete.”

The rally sparked by the two outfielders comes after the Giants lineup failed to get much of anything going throughout the day. San Francisco had no answers against Royals starter Kris Bubic, who tossed six strong shutout innings for Kansas City, allowing just two hits with nine strikeouts. 

“We were having trouble just getting on base, period,” said Kapler.

Bubic shut down the Giants through the first four innings before surrendering the first of his two hits to David Villar to lead off the fifth. He also allowed a bunt single to Heliot Ramos with two outs in the fifth inning to try to get something going for san Francisco, but Johnson flew out to center to end the inning.

Like Bubic, Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani had a strong start himself on the mound. DeSclafani followed his strong season debut at the Chicago White Sox last week by going 6 ⅓ innings on the mound, allowing just one run on three hits with seven strikeouts on Sunday.

The second consecutive strong start for DeSclafani is an encouraging sign for the right-hander after he missed most of the 2022 season with an ankle injury.

“It feels good,” DeSclafani said. “It’s nice more than anything to have my health and my pitches doing what they did back in (2021). As long as I have those to compete with, that’s nice to have moving forward.”

Despite not getting the decision on Sunday, DeSclafani has struck out 11 in his first two starts of the season, touting a 0.73 ERA, allowing just one run through 12 ⅓ innings pitched in the early goings of the season.

“(Sunday’s start) was very similar to his first outing,” said Kapler. “Good velocity on his heater, his sinker, I thought the changeup looked good, he’s around the plate with everything. Very efficient.”

DeSclafani’s lone blemish came in the fourth inning where he allowed a double to Royals first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino, then an RBI single to left to Salvador Perez.

The win puts a brief halt to a Giants skid that saw them losing three of their last four games entering Sunday, especially with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers coming in for a three-game series starting Monday night. Giants ace Logan Webb (0-2, 6.55 ERA) takes the mound for the first game of the series against Julio Urias (2-0, 1.50 ERA) with first pitch at 6:45 p.m. PT. 

Photo by SFGiants/Twitter

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