By Andrew Kahn
Game 1 of the 2015 World Series started on the same date as the most recent championships for both participants: the Royals in 1985 and the Mets the following year. It also happened to be Mets pitcher Jonathan Niese’s birthday (he was born in ’86), and the lefty pitched two dominant innings in relief in Game 1. By the time the game ended, it was no longer his birthday, and the Royals had pulled out a wild 5-4 victory.
Alcides Escobar seemed to get a hit every time at-bat in the ALCS, and won an MVP award for his production. On Tuesday, he hit Matt Harvey’s first pitch of the game to deep left-center, and rounded the bases after it ricocheted off Yoenis Cespedes’ leg. The play combined bad scouting (Escobar loves to swing at the first pitch, particularly when it’s a fastball over the plate, as this was), bad defense (Cespedes got a late jump, possibly never saw the ball, and didn’t communicate with left fielder Michael Conforto), and Escobar’s speed. The result was the 12th inside-the-park home run in World Series history and a 1-0 Royals lead.
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Volquez takes hill with heavy heart
Edinson Volquez’s father, Daniel, died at the age of 63 Tuesday in the Dominican Republic. Reports are conflicting as to whether Volquez knew this before he took the mound in Game 1. A report from ESPN said he found out on his way to the ballpark. Volquez was dominant his first time through the Mets lineup—he had a lot of movement on all his pitches—but allowed three singles in the fourth that scored a run, a solo homer to Curtis Granderson in the fifth, and two more hits and sac fly in the sixth, his final inning. By the time another Royals pitcher took the mound, though, the game was tied, thanks to three hits off Harvey in the sixth. Volquez’s availability for the rest of the series is unknown, but our thoughts are with him and his family.
The Mets took the lead in the eighth, 4-3, on Eric Hosmer’s error at first base. He backed up on a ball and misplayed a short hop, allowing a runner to score from second. According to the FOX broadcast—more on that later—it was the first time an error gave a team the lead in the eighth inning or later of a World Series game since Bill Buckner’s infamous miscue against the Mets in 1986. Hosmer struck out in a key spot in the bottom of the inning but redeemed himself in the 14th. Ben Zobrist followed an error by David Wright with a single to make it first and third, at which point Bartolo Colon intentionally walked Lorenzo Cain. Hosmer got behind 1-2 but lifted a 2-2 pitch to deep right. Curtis Granderson made his strongest throw of the season, but there was no chance to get the speedy Escobar.
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This World Series is a contrast in strengths, as New York wants to get as many innings out of their talented young starters as possible, while Kansas City has no problem turning to its lights-out bullpen. The 14-inning game necessitated more pitchers than usual for Ned Yost, but they all got it done, allowing no runs and striking out 12. The Mets couldn’t capitalize on their two base runners against the struggling Ryan Madson in the 11th, and former Met Chris Young had hitters looking lost in the final three innings. Colon can’t be blamed but Jeurys Familia blew his first save since July 30th, surrendering a solo homer to Alex Gordon with one out in the ninth. It was shades of 2000, the last time the Mets were in the World Series, when they blew Game 1 in the ninth only to lose in the 12th. That, by the way, was the last extra-inning World Series opener.
Game 2 preview
Game 2 will start on the same day that Game 1 ended, with Jacob deGrom on the hill for the Mets against the erratic Johnny Cueto. The Kansas City starter could not get out of the third inning in his most recent start, Game 3 of the ALCS in Toronto. The Royals hope that pitching at home will help. deGrom is 3-0 over 20 postseason innings this year with 27 strikeouts and 1.80 ERA. He’s the Mets best pitcher, and after using set-up men Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard, Familia for four outs, and long men Jonathan Niese (two innings) and Colon (2.1), they need deGrom to be both effective and efficient. They also need better defense than they showed in Game 1. Granderson made a terrific running catch in extras, but Cespedes’ mistake and Wright’s error both led to runs. The Mets fireballers are going to get strikeouts, but perhaps not as many against this Royals team as they did against the Dodgers and Cubs. Kansas City’s big bullpen arms, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis, pitched a combined 2.1 innings, but Young’s status to start Game 4 may now be in jeopardy. Hopefully the power outage FOX experienced in Game 1 is its last of the series. Viewers missed Harvey strike out the first batter in the fourth, and the game was delayed for a few minutes as they sorted out the ramifications of the network not having a live feed. Eventually, the MLB Network’s feed was used.
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local who also writes for Newsday and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about baseball and other sports at http://andrewjkahn.com and his Scoop and Score podcast is on iTunes. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn