Saturday, October 31, 2015

Turnabout Triumph: The Captain's Hammer and the Reversal of Fortunes in Flushing

From the first pitch of the game, the New York Mets intended to send a message. There would be no sweep, and the surprise National League Champions were not to be taken lightly. It was a ninety-eight miles per hour fastball from the arm of Noah Syndergaard over the head of Alcides Escobar, a pitch that dropped the Royals' leadoff man off of his feet. Kansas City was the favorite, but the Mets would make damn sure they had their say. The Queens, New York crowd became boisterous in support of their "Thor," a theme that seemed to echo for the rest of the roster as the night carried onward.

Of course, these Kansas City Royals are who we thought they were- a team that seems to answer to adversity quicker than anyone. The second batter of the game was super-utility man Ben Zobrist, who found the wall in deep center field for a double. Soon thereafter he was knocked in by Eric Hosmer. That was all the Royals would get in the inning, but their trend of scoring early and often had continued. This time the Mets had an answer, when Curtis Granderson returned Yordano Ventura's third pitch for an infield single. David Wright stood in. Ventura's fifth pitch of the game found the New York captain's bat, and was promptly discharged from the playing field. It was a doozy of a shot by Wright, instantly putting the Mets up a run and instilling a bit of confidence that perhaps this team might just be able to handle the Royals after all.

After the Royals chipped away to get a pair of runs and regain the lead on a passed ball, the feeling began to shift toward inevitability. The American League Champions were too good at manufacturing runs. That was until an inning later when Curtis Granderson came up with Syndergaard standing at first base. The hard-throwing Ventura gave Granderson a few fastballs to try. The fourth was the fastest, and the Mets' right fielder sent it out toward his home corner. The ball was hit just well enough to clear the orange strip atop the wall. The Mets had matched the Royals in this see-saw affair, and they now controlled the lead.

From that point on, it only got better for the home team. The only real highlight for Kansas City was the debut of Raul Mondesi, who became the first player in history to make his first Major League appearance in the World Series when he pinch-hit for Danny Duffy in the fifth inning.

The only time Syndergaard ran into any trouble was in the sixth inning, when he walked Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez to load the bases. Manager Terry Collins left him in the game to get the out, and he wasn't disappointed. Syndergaard gave Alex Rios two sliders, the second of which rolled quickly through the infield. For a moment, it looked like there might be a chance for the ball to get through. Shortstop Wilmer Flores flashed some all important leather, and managed to corral the ball and get it to a stretching Lucas Duda to get the out and keep the Mets' two run lead intact.

In the home half of the sixth inning, the Mets closed the door. It seemed as if everyone in a New York uniform had a hand in this frame. Juan Uribe, who seems to win a World Series every five years, knocked in Juan Lagares from second, and advanced soon thereafter on a fielder's choice. David Wright added another pair of runs batted in to his resume when he lined to center, scoring Uribe and Wilmer Flores. When Yoenis Cespedes flied out to left and scored Curtis Granderson, the Mets were up 9-3, a score that would remain untainted for the rest of the night.

Noah Syndergaard was good enough. His six strikeouts and three runs surrendered were pedestrian at best, but in the end it was plenty good of an effort to get the Mets on the board in the series. Now two games to one, the season will at least last into November.

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