Royals win wild Game 1 with 14th inning walk-off
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Breaking down Game 1 of the World Series from Kauffman Stadium between the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets:
Royals 5, Mets 4 (14 innings). Royals lead series 1-0.
The final: If the rest of this year’s World Series is anything like the opener, we truly have a Fall Classic on our hands.
Down to their final two outs, the Royals staged a dramatic ninth-inning comeback as Alex Gordon’s homer to dead center off Mets closer Jeurys Familia to tie the game.
Given new life, the Royals pulled out the walk-off win in the 14th on Eric Hosmer’s sacrifice fly off Bartolo Colon that scored Alcides Escobar from third. Escobar led off the 14th inning and reached on an error by Mets third baseman David Wright. He moved to third on a single by Ben Zobrist and scored on Hosmer’s medium-deep fly ball to right.
State of the Series: The Mets will try to rebound from a crushing defeat when they send Jacob deGrom (14-8, 2.54 ERA) to the mound for Game 2 on Wednesday. DeGrom has been magnificent this postseason, winning all three of his starts, allowing four earned runs in 20 innings (1.80 ERA) and striking out 27 batters.
Kansas City will counter with trade-deadline acquisition Johnny Cueto (11-13, 3.44 ERA), who was just 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA for the Royals. Cueto’s last start was a disaster. He gave up eight earned runs in two innings in a blowout loss in Toronto. However, manager Ned Yost slotted Cueto for Game 2 (and if necessary, Game 6) so he would make both starts at home. “More than anything he really feeds off of our home crowd,” Yost said. “So to be able to pitch two games if needed in this stadium I think will benefit him.”
Man of the moment: Of all the pitchers in the Kansas City bullpen who could have won the game in extra innings, Chris Young might have been the least likely.
The game went so deep into extra innings that the Royals turned their scheduled starter in Game 4 to pitch the 12th. Facing the heart of the Mets order, Young struck out Daniel Murphy, Yoenis Cespedes and Lucas Duda – all swinging.
PITCHfx had Chris Young with two pitches 90 MPH+ to Daniel Murphy … He hasn’t thrown a pitch in the 90′s since 2009.
— Daren Willman (@darenw) October 28, 2015
Then after the Royals failed to score in the bottom of the inning, Young came back out to pitch a scoreless 13th and 14th. In all, he threw 53 pitches, allowed one walk and struck out four.
Game 1 pivot point: Royals left fielder Alex Gordon hasn’t had a signature moment this postseason … until now. His clutch home run in the bottom of the ninth was the first run allowed by Mets closer Jeurys Familia in the playoffs.
Gordon drilled a 1-1 sinker from Familia 428 feet to dead center field to send the sellout crowd of 40,320 at Kauffman Stadium into a frenzy – and send the game into extra innings.
Needing a mulligan: Starting the game in center field, Yoenis Cespedes misplayed Alcides Escobar’s fly ball into an inside-the-park home run the bottom of the first inning.
He appeared to be in position to make the catch in left-center field, but as he and left fielder Michael Conforto converged, Cespedes made an unsuccessful backhanded stab at the ball. Once the ball hit off his arm, it rolled past Conforto – and Escobar circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run.
While Cespedes is much better suited for a corner outfield spot, he was in center because of the injury to slick-fielding Juan Lagares, who has been dealing with an elbow injury for most of the season. Lagares is on the postseason roster, but will likely only serve as a defensive replacement in the series.
Manager’s special: Although the Royals managed to tie the game in the ninth, they missed a golden opportunity to do it one inning earlier when Ben Zobrist doubled to lead off the eighth.
Royals manager Ned Yost then asked the team’s best overall hitter, Lorenzo Cain (.307, 16 HR, 72 RBI during the regular season), to bunt Zobrist over to third.
According to Baseball Prospectus’ run expectancy chart for 2015, a team with a runner on second and no outs will score an average of 1.08 runs in the inning. With a runner on third and one out, it drops to 0.89.
Cain whiffed on his first bunt attempt and fouled off the second. Swinging away with two strikes, Cain swung and missed for the first out. The Royals failed to tie the score in the inning when Familia came in to get the final out.
Needing a mulligan II: Fox Sports definitely needed one for the television broadcast. The main Fox TV feed lost power in the bottom of the fourth inning, causing a seven-minute delay while neither team had replay capability.
The game resumed after both managers agreed to continue the game with limited use of replay. Fox had to use its international broadcast feed – and move its national crew to the international booth.
What you missed on TV: Network broadcasts are hesitant to report the kind of news that spread like wildfire on Twitter before the start of Game 1.
ESPNDeportes.com was first to report that Royals pitcher Edinson Volquez took the mound after his father, 63-year-old Daniel Volquez, had died earlier in the day of heart complications in the Dominican Republic.
However, there were conflicting reports of whether or not Volquez was aware of the news. Fox finally waited until the bottom of the eighth inning to mention the story.