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

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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.