KANSAS CITY, Mo. An inside-the-park home run. A power failure that blacked out the TV audience. Crazy bounces, great plays and key errors.
The longest World Series opener ever had a little bit of everything. And more than five hours after they began, Alcides Escobar and the Kansas City Royals also had just enough energy to outlast the New York Mets.
Saved by Alex Gordon’s tying home run in the ninth inning off Mets closer Jeurys Familia, the Royals won in the 14th when Escobar dashed home on Eric Hosmer’s sacrifice fly for a 5-4 win late Tuesday night.
“It was a great night,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Two things you don’t want in Game 1 of the World Series: One is to go 14 innings and the other is to lose.”
“To find a way to grind that way out against a great team, both teams were matching pitch for pitch,” he said.
This tied for longest Series game ever and ended at 12:18 a.m. From the get-go, it was wild and weird.
Escobar hit an inside-the-parker on the very first pitch from Matt Harvey. Later, that power problem caused fans and the team’s replay rooms to go dark.
The nearer it got to midnight ‚Äî and beyond ‚Äî the more oddly the ball bounced.
In the 11th, Salvador Perez grounded a single that hit the third-base bag and caromed high in the air. In the 12th, Daniel Murphy struck out on a pitch that got past Perez ‚Äî it ricocheted off the backstop to the Royals catcher, who threw out Murphy at first.
About the only thing missing? A home run by Murphy, who had connected in a record six straight post-season games. The MVP of the NL Championship Series did contribute a pair of singles.
“Yeah, there was a lot of baseball out there,” Murphy said.
In the 14th, Escobar reached on an error by third baseman David Wright. Ben Zobrist’s single put runners at the corners and an intentional walk to Lorenzo Cain loaded the bases.
Hosmer atoned for a key error by lifting a flyball measured at 300 feet, and Escobar barely beat right fielder Curtis Granderson’s throw home.
“I wanted to redeem myself for what happened earlier,” Hosmer said. “That’s the beauty of this game. Always get a chance to redeem yourself and can’t thank my teammates enough.”
Chris Young pitched three hitless innings for the win. Bartolo Colon gave up an unearned run and took the loss.
“Their team, one of the things we know about them is they’re never down and out,” Mets manager Terry Collins. “We’ve got to put them away. We’ve got to do a better job.”
Game 2 is Wednesday night, with Jacob deGrom starting for the Mets against Johnny Cueto. It’s a hairy matchup: DeGrom’s flowing tresses vs. Cueto’s mop of dreadlocks.
Anyone who’s ever seen the Royals play ‚Äî especially in October ‚Äî knows they’re called resilient for a reason. Once again, they reinforced their reputation.
Gordon shook the ballpark when he tagged Familia, hitting a solo drive with one out over the centre field wall. The star closer hadn’t blown a save since July 30 and had been nearly perfect this post-season.
Known more for his glove than his bat, Gordon connected when he said Familia tried to quick pitch him, and got a huge hug in the dugout from Hosmer. A two-time Gold Glove first baseman, Hosmer’s error gave the Mets a 4-3 lead in the eighth.
“I was the happiest person in the stadium when Gordon homered,” Hosmer said. “I told him, ‘I just want to hug you right now.’ I think a lot of people in Kansas City want to hug him.”
Escobar provided the early excitement. He loves to swing at first pitches, and this time the MVP of AL Championship Series produced his best result yet.
A mix-up by Mets outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and rookie Michael Conforto helped Escobar wind up with just the second inside-the-parker to lead off a Series game. Ol’ Patsy Dougherty of the Boston Americans did it in 1903 ‚Äî his came in the second game ever of what became known as the Fall Classic.
“As I ran after the ball, I looked at Conforto and by the time I looked back up I had lost the ball,” Cespedes said through a translator.
Cespedes never put his mitt up and the ball glanced off his leg, darted along the warning and let Escobar score standing up.
Harvey brushed aside the misplay and quickly settled in. The Mets, meanwhile, soon caught up with Royals starter Edinson Volquez, who did his best on the day his father died in the Dominican Republic.
Volquez left the stadium before the game ended and headed home. Most the Royals didn’t know about his dad.
“I found out in, I think it was the 14th inning, right before we won the game,” Gordon said. “I was standing next to Ned and he told me, he said, ‘Let’s win this game for Volquez.’”
For both teams, this began as a lucky day.
Exactly 30 years earlier, on the same field, Bret Saberhagen and the Royals routed St. Louis in Game 7 for their most recent crown. The next year, also on Oct. 27, Darryl Strawberry homered to help the Mets beat Boston in Game 7 for their latest title.
By the time the Royals won early Wednesday, they’d already made Oct. 28 a day to remember, too.
Mets: DeGrom is 3-0 this post-season, with each win coming on the road. He has struck out 27 in 20 innings against the Dodgers and Cubs in the playoffs.
Royals: Cueto, acquired from the Reds in late July, will make his first World Series appearance. He is 1-1 with a 7.88 ERA in three post-season starts this year.
This is the Mets’ fifth time in the World Series, and they’ve lost Game 1 all five times. They wound up winning the title in 1969 and 1986, and lost in 1973 and 2000. The Mets have gone to extra innings at least once every year they’ve reached the Series.