Craig Calcaterra

Jacob deGrom

World Series Reset: How does Game 2 follow THAT act?

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KANSAS CITY — Game 1 had a little of everything. Game 2 is probably guaranteed to have less, if only we count the fact that several of the pitchers who played in the marathon that just ended won’t be available or quite as effective tonight. But after that epic opening act, anything is possible I suppose.

The Game: New York Mets vs. Kansas City Royals
The Time: 8:07 PM Eastern.
The Place: Kauffman Stadium
The Channel: Fox
The StartersJacob deGrom vs. Johnny Cueto
The Upshot:  The Royals used six relievers over eight innings last night, including three from the guy who is, for lack of anyone better to fill that role, their long man, in Chris Young. The Mets used five relievers over seven innings and change, including their own long man in Bartolo Colon. That puts a lot on Johnny Cueto and Jacob deGrom’s shoulders in Game 2. Both have shown, of course, that they’re capable of being the sort of horses their teammates can ride to victory.

Cueto has been uneven to say the least, but he pitched eight innings in his ALDS performance against the Astros which shows that he hasn’t totally forgotten what the Royals expected him to be. deGrom is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three postseason outings, with a couple of seven inning starts. At least one of those came when he didn’t necessarily have his best stuff and he still managed to emerge victorious. Last night was a tight game as every game in this series will likely be, but tonight gives us our best shot at a true pitchers duel.

To ensure that, though, the defenses will have to be a bit tauter than the were last night. While there were gems on each side — Curtis Granderson, Mike Moustakas, Wilmer Flores and Alcides Escobar all came up big from time to time — Eric Hosmer‘s error at first base and Yoenis Cespedes‘ non-error error to allow Escobar’s inside-the-park home run were difference-makers.

If this one is half as good as the last one, we’re in for a treat.

Edinson Volquez did not know that his father had died until after he left the game

Edinson Volquez
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This evening, just as Game 1 of the World Series was getting underway, the world learned that the father of Royals starter Edinson Volquez died shortly before game time. Edinson Volquez, however, did not. He was told by family members after he left the game in the sixth inning.

While there were conflicting reports about Volquez’s knowledge — specifically, ESPN reported that Volquez was called by family while he was on his way to the stadium — after the game tonight it was revealed that he did not, in fact, know:

I presume there will be some attempt at a discussion in some quarters about whether it was right not to tell Volquez that his father died. I further presume that there will be an attempt by some to fashion this into some sort of drama which reflects on his pitching performance or his character in some way or the other.

I hope I’m wrong about that. A man lost his father today. The baseball stuff and our opinions of how and when this news reached him is pretty unimportant in comparison.

Game 1: A long, weird overture to an epic drama

Royals celebrate
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KANSAS CITY — In their combined seven World Series before this one, neither the Mets nor the Royals had ever won a Game 1. As it passed midnight here in Kansas City and we entered our sixth hour of baseball, it seemed that the streak would somehow continue.

That would certainly be weird. Actually, it’d be impossible. But anything seemed possible on this night, when the Mets and Royals spent so much time playing each others’ games and the final pitching showdown featured nearly six combined innings from a couple of guys in Chris Young and Bartolo Colon who could’ve faced off a decade ago if the Rangers and the Angels’ rotations were jiggered just so.

Anything you can do I can do better . . . New York scored the go-ahead in the top of the eighth by taking advantage of the Royals’ bullpen with some solid base running, some porous Royals defense and key contact on a shortened swing, shooting a ball through the infield on some solid contact. All of which were the sort of things that were supposed to bedevil the Mets, not the Royals. The Royals, for their part, relied on the longball, with Alcides Escobar‘s inside-the-park home run kicking the game off and Alex Gordon‘s deep shot to straightaway center in the bottom of the ninth bookending things in regulation. In a most unusual turn of events, Daniel Murphy had no homers . . . I can do anything better than you.

Then there were just some unexpected things to which neither team can lay claim as their typical m.o. Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard and Jon Niese pitching solid and, in Niese’s case, fantastically out of the bullpen while the usually dominant Jeurys Familia blew the save on that Gordon homer. Or Young coming in for the Royals in for the 12th, 13th and 14th, striking out the side in the 12th and tossing another two scoreless innings after that. Meanwhile, Kelvin Herrera allowed that run in the eighth, unearned as it may have been. Everyone’s polarities were reversed in some way, shape or form on this night.

But then, just after midnight, order, such as we’ve come to know it, was restored. Order in the form of the Royals doing what they’ve done so many times this year: stringing a rally together without the aid of anything hit particularly hard. Alcides Escobar reaching first on a David Wright error and then reaching third on a Ben Zobrist single. Eric Hosmer driving him in with a a middling fly ball off of Colon at exactly 12:18PM Central Time. There was nothing unusual about the game-winning rally in a postseason full of rallies for this Royals team other than the hour in which it came and the fact that it came against a pitcher who made his big league debut when the 25th man on the Royals’ roster was still in diapers.

And, while there may be some naysayers around the water cooler later this morning talking about Game 1 being too long or too boring or too weird or filled with too many intentional walks and 2-3 strikeout/putouts and too few extra-base hits for the Mets, don’t listen to them. For whatever else this game was, for good and for bad, it had all the feeling of an overture. A few bars of music before the serious drama begins. An entertaining drama to be sure, as these two actors are far too closely matched in skill for anyone to steal the show.

The curtain for Act 2 rises in around 18 hours.