By Andrew Kahn
Whether you want to believe in Strat-O-Matic, which accurately predicted the winner of the first three games of the World Series, including several details, or the magic of 1986 creeping back (the Mets run differentials have been identical in the first three games of both series), the bottom line is the 2015 World Series is far from over. The New York Mets beat the Kansas City Royals 9-3 in Game 3 on Friday night to cut the Royals lead to 2-1.
In the first two games of the series, it appeared Mets pitchers were afraid to challenge the Kansas City hitters at times. Noah Syndergaard was not. From the very first pitch, he went after the hitters—he sent Alcides Escobar diving to the ground with a 98 mile-per-hour heater to start the game. It was all part of his plan to make the hitters uncomfortable. Mike Moustakas shouted obscenities at him from the bench “That’s my plate out there, it’s not theirs,” he said calmly in a postgame interview. He allowed a double and infield hit to the next two batters, and one scored on a ground out. The second inning didn’t go any better. He allowed four singles—two with two strikes, a theme in the first two games—and two runs. Unlike Harvey and deGrom, though, he didn’t give in. He retired 12 straight hitters from the end of the second until two outs in the sixth, when an infield single and two walks loaded the bases. He got out of it and finished with six strikeouts. The rookie also singled to lead off the third, and scored on Curtis Granderson’s home run.
The Captain delivers
In his first World Series at-bat at home—a big deal for the longest-tenured active player with any one franchise—David Wright hit a two-run homer to put the Mets up 2-1 in the first:
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It was reminiscent of his homer in August in his first at-bat after four months on the disabled list. Citi Field was rocking. It was a 96 mile-per-hour fastball up and in, a pitch Wright has struggled with this season. He said after the game that he worked with hitting coach Kevin Long on catching up to that pitch, and he turned on it. Wright added a two-run single in the sixth to make it 8-3.
I feel like Juan Uribe could be cryogenically frozen for 30 years, come back, and smack a hit against major league pitching. The 36-year-old had not played since September 25 because of a chest injury and was not on the postseason roster until the World Series. Uribe didn’t see action in Kansas City—leaving many to question the decision to have him on the roster—but stepped in to the batter’s box in the sixth inning of Game 3 as a pinch hitter. With runners on first and second and one out, Uribe took a couple of close pitches to even the count at 2-2 (all fastballs), then ripped a curveball to right field for a run-scoring hit:
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Much like pitcher Bartolo Colon, Mets fans have ultimate confidence that Uribe will deliver regardless of the circumstances. They gave him quite the ovation after his hit. Uribe has two World Series rings—in 2005 with the White Sox and 2010 with the Giants—and is a great presence in the clubhouse. But experience and attitude only count for so much. That he was able to get on the field and contribute in a big way was important. Look for him to continue to get key pinch-hit at-bats the rest of the series.
Welcome to the bigs, kid
History was made at Citi Field on Friday when Raul Mondesi, Jr. became the first player to make his major league debut in the World Series. Mondesi had not advanced beyond Double-A this season and therefore hadn’t played in a real game since September 18. He pinch hit for the pitcher in the fifth inning and struck out on four pitches. The 20-year-old was added to the World Series roster because manager Ned Yost wanted more flexibility with the three games in the National League park. Mondesi, the Royals’ top prospect and son of the former Dodgers slugger, can play short or second. But still, it’s pretty crazy to consider his first action at the big league level came in the most important series. Earlier in the postseason, it seemed that if any player was to make this sort of history, it would be Mets shortstop Matt Reynolds, who had never played in the bigs but was added to the roster when Ruben Tejada broke his leg. But the Mets activated Uribe and dropped Reynolds before the World Series.
Game 4 preview
The Mets will try to tie up the series on Saturday night, the second of three straight at Citi Field. They’ll hand the ball to another rookie, Steven Matz, who will oppose veteran Chris Young. Matz has been solid in limited action this year but doesn’t often go deep in games. Young is also known for five or six innings of quality work. Both teams used most all of their key relievers on Friday (though Royals closer Wade Davis did not pitch), but none for more than an inning. Young shut down the Mets for three innings to close out the 14-inning Game 1, striking out four and allowing just one baserunner (a walk). The Mets chased his pitches in the dirt and the ones at their shoulders. If they can lay off the balls—a good recipe against any pitcher, but especially against someone without great stuff—they should have success. Most of the New York bats came alive, as expected, in front of the home crowd, and they’ll need to keep it going to even the series. Yoenis Cespedes is the X-factor. He hasn’t hit the ball hard very often this postseason. The Royals will stick with their aggressive approach and hope it rattles the young lefty, Matz.
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