After the agonizing, heart-wrenching baseball played in game 1 of this World Series, it was a near certainty that one team would come out flat for game 2 played last night in Kansas City. The Royals’ 7-1 victory, giving them a 2 games to none lead in the series showed which team came out the more flat of the two. During a dozen years broadcasting in the minors, I seldom saw a team lose a game like Tuesday night’s marathon and then come out with guns blazing the next night. It seldom works that way. It certainly didn’t in the Mets’ last two visits to the Fall Classic. In game 1 of the 2000 series, Mets’ closer Armando Benitez gave up a 9th-inning home run on the road, as Jeurys Familia did Tuesday night. Back then the Mets lost in 13, then were beaten the next night and lost the series in 5. In 1986 the Mets lost a 1-run game against Boston in game 1, then were whacked in game 2 and had to go to Fenway to right the ship. Now at least they return to Citi Field for the next 3 contests, to be played tomorrow night, Saturday and Sunday nights. While the Mets were a pedestrian 41-40 on the road, they were a solid 49-32 at the stadium where the 7 subway line ends. The Cubs’ hopes and dreams ended there when the Mets dismantled Jake Arrieta, their best pitcher in game 2. Games 3 and 4 in Chicago were merely a coronation. The Royals were a dominant 51-30 at home and 44-37 away from their turf near I70. While that record is somewhat better than the Mets’ road record I don’t see the cause for the doom and gloom you can hear if you sentence yourself to New York sports talk radio from now until tomorrow night. That same doom and gloom runs rampant on social media. my answer for much of the 30 hours or so from publication time of this column until gametime tomorrow night is a good book and a dog on my lap.
In the first 3 innings last night, both teams looked catatonic from the effects of Tuesday night’s instant classic. Lucas Duda got one of the Mets’ few hits in the second, but Travis D’Arnaud grounded into a double play ending the inning. In the fourth, Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy walked. The Royals couldn’t manage a double play on Cespedes’ grounder although they got Granderson at third. Duda then singled in what would prove to be the only Mets’ run. We couldn’t know the two hits registered up to now would be the only two hits the Mets would gain off the inconsistent starter Johnny Cueto.
All seemed well for the visiting 9 up to the halfway point of the game. Starter Jacob DeGrom gave up his first hit in the fourth, but following an error and a walk the Royals left the bases full. The home fifth would prove to be the end of any hope the Mets might have had to salvage a split on the road. Alex Gordon, the 8 hitter who launched the home run off Familia Tuesday night drew a walk to lead things off. The 9 hitter Rios singled. Putting on the 8 and 9 hitters in any order is a recipe for trouble and that’s what DeGrom got. Alcides Escobar, Tuesday night’s inside the park home run hitter singled home the tying run. A grounder by Zobrist put two men in scoring position. Lorenzo Cain lined out to Juan Lagares in center bringing the Mets tantalizingly close to getting out of the inning with a tie game. I’ve come that close to walking out of a couple of places with pretty women on my arm only to be denied at the last possible instant. What man hasn’t. Eric Hosmer played the role of the irate boy friend and pulled the rug out from under DeGrom and the Mets by singling home Rios and Escobar. Kendrys Morales and Mike Moustakas singled after that, making it 4-1 Royals. By the end of the inning DeGrom had thrown 94 pitches and manager Terry Collins, seeing the game for a lost cause and knowing he’d need DeGrom for a possible game 6 turned to Hansel Robles. This was one of two pitchers who didn’t work Tuesday night. He did his job in the sixth. Jonathan Niese kept it at 4-1 in the 7th but couldn’t get anybody out in the 8th. Moustakas led off with a single to right, then Salvador Perez doubled him to third. Gordon doubled, though only one runner Moustakas scored. Enter Addison Reed. Paulo Orlando, a 30-year-old rookie and rare Brazilian in the majors hit a scoring fly ball to make it 6-1. There followed a 3-bagger by Escobar to make it a 7-1 game, which was the final score. Sean Gilmartin got the last 2 outs, leaving only two starting pitchers who have not seen action in this World Series. They are Noah Syndergaard who starts game 3 and Steven Matz who is scheduled to begin game 4.
While no game is scheduled today in either city, older Kansas City residents may remember October 29 as the day major league baseball came to Kansas City. On that date in 1954, Arnold Johnson who owned the stadium in town bought the Athletics from the sons of Connie Mack. He sold the stadium back to the city, who renamed it Kansas City Municipal Stadium and almost doubled its size to a capacity of 30,000 for Athletics games. The team spent 13 seasons there before moving to Oakland, then the Royals spent 4 years at the old stadium until their present home was ready. As bad as those teams were, it was still major league baseball and it has led to where today’s Royals are, in their second straight World Series.
A couple of interessting baseball men have birthdays today. R. A. Dickey, the Blue Jays’ knuckleballer is 41, which doesn’t mean as much when you toss the floater since it takes little out of your arm. He has tied a couple of goofy records-six home runs allowed in a start (with fellow knuckleballer Tim Wakefield,) and 4 wild pitches in an inning with Walter Johnson and Phil Neikro. Guess what pitch Phil threw to earn his daily bread?
Old Robert Allen Dickey of Nashville, who wears 43 on his back could play until he is that, or 53 for all anybody knows. Ask Hoyt Wilhelm, the Neikro brothers Phil and Joe, Charlie Hough (Huff for you JAWS users,) or Jim Bouton-if you can find him. If you do, ask him to read this column. lol
Jesse Barfield is 56. He was a Bluejays’ draftee who for me symbolizes the bad years of the Yankees in the very late ’80s and early ’90s.
And Pete Richert is 76. He was on the Dodgers of Koufax and Drysdale in their early glory years. They almost made the World Series in 1962 but lost thanks to a sloppy 9th inning in the third playoff game against the Giants. Then they swept the Yankees in 4 in 1963. Those years Richert was as much a starter as anything else. Then in a move that shows how cruel baseball can be he was shipped to the Senators (now Texas Rangers,) in 1965-the exact year the Dodgers beat the Twins in the World Series. He also missed their 1966 Series appearance against the Orioles while laboring with the lowly Senators. He became an Oriole in 1967 and was with them in the bull pen as they lost the 1969 World Series to the Mets, won the ’70 classic against the Reds and lost in ’71 to the Pirates. After two years with the Dodgers they again got rid of him when they were on the edge of winning the 1974 National League pennant. Happy birthday to Dickey, Barfield and Richert.