The Mets blew a late lead and ultimately fell to the Royals by the score of 5-4 in 14 innings at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on Wednesday.
The Royals now lead the best-of-seven World Series 1-0 over the Mets.
Here are my takeaways from the loss…
A heart pounding roller coaster, coming down to execution.
This was a real dandy of a ballgame to open the World Series. It was a great battle between two great clubs. But it came down to execution, and unfortunately for the Mets, the Royals snuck away with this one as they executed just a little bit better.
The defense betrayed the Mets right out of the gate on Tuesday, thanks to an inside-the-park home run to leadoff the game from Alcidis Escobar on a ball that just had to be caught by Yoenis Cespedes but was not.
So it was 1-0 Royals, and that’s how it would stay until the Mets bats came alive in the fourth inning against Edinson Volquez, who lost his command after three outstanding innings.
They put runners at the corners thanks to a leadoff single from Daniel Murphy and a one-out single through the shift from Lucas Duda and more heads up base running from Murphy, who took third easily thanks to the over shift on Duda. Travis d’Arnaud plated Murphy on an infield single up the third base line. But it was played well by Mike Moustakas as he was able to keep the ball on the infield and prevent Duda from getting to third, or even scoring.
The Mets would take the lead when Curtis Granderson hit a solo home run in the fifth, and they’d snag another run in the sixth inning thanks to more heads up base running, this time from Yoenis Cespedes who led off the frame with a single. Cespedes took third when Duda singled through the shift again. That setup an RBI situation for Travis d’Arnaud, who struck out for the first out of the inning. But Michael Conforto took advantage of the situation and drove in Cespedes to give the Mets a 3-1 lead.
But it feels like the Mets should have had more at that point against Volquez, who was dealing with his own personal tragedy on the mound with his father’s passing earlier Tuesday.
With their missed opportunities and poor defense early, that left the door open for the Royals who responded with two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to some good hitting and some good base running.
And so, the game was tied at three a piece, leaving it in the hands of the bullpens.
One would think the Royals have the advantage with a tie game late, but on this night, the Mets took advantage of a mistake by the sure-handed Eric Hosmer when he misplayed a hot shot off the bat of Wilmer Flores to his back hand with Juan Lagares on second base and two outs. The ball got away, and the Mets had the lead.
Things got a little dicey for the Mets immediately in the bottom of the eighth, however, when Tyler Clippard allowed a leadoff double to Ben Zobrist, his second double of the night. But then he got strikeouts from Cain and Hosmer, but couldn’t retire Kendrys Morales who drew a walk.
Terry Collins took no more chances, however, and gave the ball to Jeurys Familia who induced a weak groundball to Flores at shortstop, stranding Zobrist at third and securing the lead heading into the ninth inning.
But as the Royals always seem to do, they found a way against Familia in the ninth inning thanks to a one-out home run from Alex Gordon to tie the game at four.
It was very reminiscent of Game 1 of the 2000 World Series, when the Mets had a lead against the Yankees only to have then-closer Armando Benitez blow that one to send the game to extra-innings.
And as was the case 15 years ago, it seemed like only a matter of time that the Royals would eventually get it done.
It took them a while, but they eventually outlasted the Mets deep into extra innings, as the Mets had no answer for their former mate Chris Young, who just dominated them for three innings.
They had a big chance in the 12th inning but squandered it, leaving the bases loaded in the process. But in the 14th with Bartolo Colon working his third inning, Escobar reached on an error by Wright who made a poor throw to first base to start the inning. Then, Zobrist singled to right to send Escobar to third with nobody out.
Hosmer hit a sacrifice fly to plate Escobar, and that was that.
About Juan Lagares for a moment…
The Mets are no where without Juan Lagares on Tuesday. And I mean, no where.
Yes, the Mets got their go-ahead run on an error, but that isn’t even a factor if not for a tremendous at-bat again Kevin Herrera with two outs and nobody on. He battled one 100 mph fastball after the next, worked a deep count, and ultimately laced a single to center field in what was easily the best at-bat of anyone on both sides tonight.
He then stole second on a rare breaking ball from Herrera to get into scoring position. That’s when Flores laced that one-hopper to Hosmer which he booted, and the Mets had the lead.
But without Lagares’ amazing at-bat, there is no run for the Mets in the eighth inning in all probability.
It seemed like that sequence would be the difference for the Mets. Unfortunately, it wasn’t thanks to the Royals’ ninth inning heroics.
A bumpy #HarveyDay.
This was a really unusual game for Harvey. He pitched really well, but he almost seemed confused at times, especially at both ends of this game. He had trouble locating early as well, which suggests he was a little rusty with the extended rest.
He got tagged for an undeserved run in the first thanks to a really foolish misplay on the part of Cespedes, which resulted in an inside-the-park home run. But he was throwing a lot of fastballs, and the Royals did what they normally do and that is attack his fastball early in counts.
But then he found his groove, started pitching backwards, and kept the Royals off the board through five innings. He had retired 11 in a row heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, but then he got away from the game plan again, and the Royals again began to attack. It started with a double from Ben Zobrist, and then a single from Lorenzo Cain to put runners at the corners. Then Eric Hosmer drove Zobrist in on a sac fly he hit on an 0-2 fastball to make it 3-2.
Cain then went to work, stealing second easily. He came around to score when Mike Moustakas singled him home on yet another fastball to tie the game at three a piece.
Overall, it’s hard to complain. The Royals did what they do best, which is manufacture two runs in the sixth inning off of him. Sure, Harvey coughed up a lead, but the Royals are a good team and they deserve credit for pecking away at Harvey in that spot.
He pitched well. He was efficient, he worked quickly, and he might have been lifted prematurely, although the Royals did get to him in the sixth, which may have been the reason he was lifted for the seventh despite having thrown only 80 pitches.
The Mets definitely had some opportunities in this game. Some of which were taken away by the Royals defense, others just fell by the wayside. That’s evident in their 1-for-10 performance with runners in scoring position and the 11 men left on-base in Game 1.
They had a chance for a big opportunity taken away in the fourth inning when Mike Moustakas made an excellent diving snag on a groundball from Travis d’Arnaud up the third base line. That resulted in a run, but it kept the ball on the infield and potentially kept Lucas Duda from scoring, if not keeping him at second base for sure. Michael Conforto proceeded to pop out and Wilmer Flores grounded out, limiting the damage to one run.
Then in the sixth inning, they had another chance when they put runners at the corners with nobody out. They got a run on a sacrifice fly from Conforto, but stranded two more runners in that frame, which proved significant when the Royals came back and tied the game in the bottom half of the sixth inning.
The Mets had a two out chance in the seventh inning against the always tough Royals bullpen, but Cespedes flew out to end that frame, leaving the game tied.
They had two on in the 11th inning only to strand those runners.
But the Mets also didn’t really swing the bats very well at all after the seventh inning. They only had three hits from the eighth inning on, two of which off the bat of Lagares and the other from Wright.
And against these Royals, no team can leave the door open, and that’s what the Mets did. Eventually, the Royals took advantage of that open door, and slipped the rug right out from under the Mets.
In a way, the Mets got what they deserved as a result as they did absolutely nothing over the final six innings of this game.
The winner of the first game of the World Series has gone on to win the 69 times in the 110 previous Fall Classics (62.7%).
That has been the case in 11 of the last 12 and 16 of the last 18 World Series beginning 1997, with 2002 (San Francisco defeating Anaheim) and 2009 (Philadelphia defeating New York) the lone exceptions.
It has also occurred in 18 of the last 21 and 23 of the last 27 Series. In addition to San Francisco and Philadelphia, the only other exceptions in the last 27 Fall Classic were both by Atlanta, first game winners versus Toronto in 1992 and New York in 1996, but losers of each Series in six games.
So this is obviously a huge, huge miss for the Mets as they endeavor to win their first World Championship in 29 years. It’s an unfortunate loss considering they had one of the best closers in baseball on in the ninth, and he was two outs away from securing the win before blowing the save and giving the Royals the air they needed to eventually take this win away from the Mets.
There’s a long way to go of course, but this is indeed a stinger.
Other notes from Tuesday:
Escobar’s inside-the-park home run was the first such home run in the World Series since the 1929 Fall Classic It was the first leadoff inside-the-park home run in the World Series since 1903.
Tuesday’s Game 1 was the longest Game 1 in World Series history.
Lagares is the second player in baseball history to come off the bench, record two or more hits and steal a base in a World Series game. Last player to do so was Jim Thorpe in the 1917 World Series.
Gordon’s home run in the ninth inning was the first home run to tie a World Series game since Scott Brosius did it for the Yankees in the 2001 World Series.
With his two-hit performance, Murphy has recorded his fourth straight multiple-hit game in the postseason. He’s now 18-for-43 in the postseason.
Michael Cuddyer went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts on Tuesday – he’s now just 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts in the postseason and 2-for-his-last-29 overall.
Familia blew his first save since July 30.
On Tuesday, the Mets became the first team in baseball since the 1986 Mets to come from behind and take a lead in the eighth inning or later of a World Series game when those Mets came from behind and won Game 6 in the tenth inning.