Perez struck the only blow the Royals could manage on offense, finally getting a run off Giants starter Madison Bumgarner after he allowed only two hits through six scoreless innings. By the time of Perez's bomb, the Royals were dug in a hole from which they couldn't escape. It's a rare sign of life from the catcher's bat, as he's hit just .135/.158/.216 in 37 postseason at-bats despite the Royals racking up win after win in the first three rounds.
Shields (1-1) hadn't been having a great postseason despite the Royals' impressive run of wins, giving up 10 earned runs in 16 innings heading into his Game 1 start. His night turned south immediately Tuesday, as the Giants followed up a one-out, RBI double with a two-run home run to take a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Shields retired seven straight heading into the fourth, where he opened the inning with a double, walk and RBI single to get the hook. The loss, which was the first of the postseason for the Royals, puts the AL pennant winner in a 1-0 hole going into Game 2 Wednesday in Kansas City.
"It's definitely a huge relief," Sabathia said. "I feel good enough to do all my workouts, to play catch and kind of have a normal offseason."
Sabathia, who underwent season-ending knee surgery in July, starting throwing off flat ground in late September and plans to report to spring training early.
Castillo suffered the injury while getting jammed during an at-bat. He signed a $72.5-million deal in August that runs through 2020.
James Shields takes the mound in Game 1 Tuesday, while rookie Yordano Ventura is slated to pitch Game 3. If the series reaches five games, Shields would likely be in line to start Game 5 Sunday.
Escobar led off just 16 times while playing all 162 games during the regular season, but he's been the man atop the lineup in each of the Royals' first eight postseason games -- all wins. He'll be followed by right fielder Norichika Aoki, center fielder Lorenzo Cain, first baseman Eric Hosmer, designated hitter Billy Butler, left fielder Alex Gordon, catcher Salvador Perez, second baseman Omar Infante and third baseman Mike Moustakas.
"Taijuan is completely healthy and was very impressive in his two outings, but made a personal decision that he needed to return home at this time," general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a statement. "He will continue with his offseason program and we look forward to seeing him at spring training in February."
Walker posted a 2.00 ERA in his two AFL starts, striking out 11 and walking two in nine innings of work.