Ah, baseball is back… I do realize it’s only been four days, but it’s nice to be watching, talking about, and then writing about baseball once again. Yeah, this off-season is going to be both a blessing and a curse this year. Though I have to say I doubt I’ll be missing the late into the night extra innings games like tonight.
World Series Game 1 — Mets at Royals
An entire day of drippy, dreary, cold Autumn rain (that ended just before game time, fortunately). Five hours and nine minutes, 14 innings. If this is a sign of how this year’s World Series is going to be, we’re in for a long Series this year. It tied the longest game in World Series history with the 1916 Game 2 (Boston Red Sox over the Brooklyn Robins 2-1, Babe Ruth pitched all 14 innings, by the way) and 2005 Game 3 (Chicago White Sox over Houston Astros 7-5, Andy Pettitte was part of the Astros rotation having started the previous game).
On top of that, there was some broadcasting issues early in the game when a truck lost its signal for four minutes, causing the game to drop and viewers were faced with studio broadcasters for a few minutes while the game in Kansas City halted. If you’ve never been to a nationally televised game (at least one on the major networks), they do pay attention to such things — there’s always a guy with cards to say when they’re back from commercial, when they can start pitching for real again, when delays are sent to commercial or the studio so they don’t restart without an audience. It’s subtle if you don’t know where to look (find the nearest camera well usually), but it’s there. Unlike my grandfather’s days, where it was predominantly radio you had to be glued to, today’s game (especially the big ones) revolves not around the game but around the broadcast.
So a four-minute TV blackout is a big deal. But they cleared it up rather quickly, perhaps due to the large presence of a certain MLB executive (Joe Torre in the house), who has both broadcasting and World Series experience.
And some time in the five hours of game time, there actually was a game. And it was a doozy.
Giving credit where credit is due — both starters Harvey and Volquez were very evenly matched tonight (and their stats reflect it as nearly identical), which is not saying a lot because I expected more out of both of them. Both gave up 3 runs under their tenure tonight, both exiting the game with a no-decision, both leaving it up to their bullpen and offense to duke it out to the bitter end (the end that would come 8 innings later).
In the bottom of the 1st, the lead-off batter for the Royals hit an inside-the-park home run when the Mets’ center fielder booted the ball away from himself. That and the runner was just that fast around the bases. Then Harvey tamped down and got the Royals back under his “Dark Knight-ness”. Meanwhile, the Mets found momentary holes in Volquez’s start. A lead-off single in the 4th moved to 3rd on a 1-out single and then scored on another single to tie up the game. Then in the 5th, a 1-out solo home run pushed the Mets ahead of the Royals. And the lead-off single in the 6th scored on a sacrifice fly to give the Mets that insurance run.
That’s when the Royals pounced back on the Dark Knight in the bottom of that inning. A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. A stolen base and a ground out put both teams on edge. But then a single scored the tying run for the Royals. Now both teams were looking for that winning run to be scored somewhere in the next few innings.
Again, handing over the ball to their respective bullpens and trusting the offense to come through at some point made up the next few innings. In the top of the 8th, the Mets finally got their wish. A lead-off double scored on a fielding error by the Royals’ 1st baseman, which gave the Mets their necessary lead. But all that went away when a 1-out solo home run by the Royals tied up the game in the bottom of the 9th and sent it to extra innings. (So many extra innings!) And as upsetting as that was for everyone from New York, that particular pitcher hasn’t blown a save since July, so it’s not like he was unreliable or something; it was just a good pitch that found the right timing for the batter.
And the revolving door of both bullpens began with some interesting outcomes. The Royals pitchers seem to thrive on striking out the Mets batters, but not as successfully as they might have hoped as in the later innings, it was the Mets on base threatening to break the 4-4 tie. Meanwhile, the Mets’ pitching staff worked the short ball, getting the Royals’ batters to hit into ground balls and fly balls which really showed off their terrific defense. Honestly, it was rather fun to watch both teams play like this because it showed why they were both World Series contenders practically since April.
Anyway, in the bottom of the 14th all that changed for everyone. The new Mets’ reliever had some trouble after his lead-off batter reached on a messy throwing error. A single moved the runner to 3rd before the next batter was intentionally walked to load up the bases with absolutely no outs (not a good sign for the Mets). A sacrifice fly (hit by the same player who allowed the Mets” lead in the 8th inning with his error) scored the winning, walk-off run to end the game with a Royals’ win.
Final score: 5-4 Royals, in 14 innings.
Other game notes: one of the Mets’ relievers, Jonathan Niese, celebrated his 29th birthday today, and in a rather fun twist, he was born on October 27, 1986, which is the day the Mets won their last World Series. Niese threw two innings late in the game, but really had a rather stellar outing, with 3 strikeouts. A happy birthday to him.
And in sad news, the father of tonight’s Royals starter Edinson Volquez passed away earlier today in the Dominican Republic, due to complications of his heart condition. The Royals chose to withhold the information from their starter at the request of his visiting family until after his start was complete, Volquez’s wife delivering the news privately during the game. Several other Royals teammates have lost parents in the last year and were heartbroken and sympathetic, motivated to win tonight’s game for Senor Volquez. Our condolences go out to the entire Volquez family during this time.