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

6 Comments

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.

Cardinals beat Brewers, both clinch postseason berths

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
2 Comments

ST. LOUIS (AP) Harrison Bader tripled and homered to help the St. Louis Cardinals clinch a postseason berth on the final day of the regular season with a 5-2 win over Milwaukee, and the Brewers also earned a playoff spot Sunday via help on the West Coast moments later.

St. Louis (30-28) will be the fifth seed in the NL and open a three-game wild-card series at San Diego on Wednesday. By winning, the Cardinals avoided having to travel to Detroit for two makeup games Monday. St. Louis finished the regular season with 23 games in 18 days as it made up a slew of postponements caused by a coronavirus outbreak in the clubhouse.

“You had to throw some of the expectations out the window not knowing what to expect after taking those couple weeks off and all those doubleheaders and so many new guys,” Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. “It was very different, very fulfilling to make the playoffs.”

The Brewers (29-31) locked up the eighth seed and a third consecutive postseason berth after the Padres beat San Francisco 5-4 in a game that ended about 15 minutes after St. Louis’ victory. The Giants finished with an identical record as the Brewers but lost out on a tiebreaker due to an inferior intradivision record.

“It’s fitting for 2020 and everything we went through,” Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich said. “It felt just as good as past years. This year’s a unique one. There’s so many challenges we had to go through on a daily basis behind the scenes, things you don’t deal with in a normal year.”

Milwaukee will face the top-seeded Dodgers in Los Angeles in a three-game series that also starts Wednesday.

The Brewers haven’t had a winning record at any point this season. Milwaukee and Houston will be the first teams ever to qualify for the playoffs with a losing mark.

“It’s a celebration,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We’re in the playoffs. That’s how you see it. There’s no reason to apologize for getting into the playoffs.”

Cardinals starter Austin Gomber allowed one run, one hit and two walks and struck out three over four innings.

Giovanny Gallegos (2-0), Genesis Cabrera and Alex Reyes combined to pitch the final five innings. Reyes got his first save.

“We’d have been happy getting in as the eight seed,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “We’d have been happy being the one seed, but people can say we got in if there was no expanded playoffs so that’s even another feather in this group’s cap.”

Brett Anderson (4-4) surrendered a triple to Bader and a walk to Tyler O'Neill to start the third inning before departing with a blister on his left index finger. Anderson opened the season on the injured list with a blister on the same finger and did not make his debut until Aug. 3.

Freddy Peralta replaced him a day after being activated from the paternity list, and O’Neill promptly stole second. Kolten Wong then hit a line drive off Peralta’s leg that Peralta threw into right field to score Bader and O’Neill.

Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong each added RBI singles to push the St. Louis lead to 4-0.

After Milwaukee scored in the top of the fifth, Bader hit his fifth home run of the season.

“That was a big counterpunch,” Shildt said of Bader. “Got them on their heels again.”

THREE TIMES THE FUN

Yadier Molina grounded into a triple play in the eighth inning when he hit a one hop grounder to Jace Peterson at third base in the eighth inning. It was Milwaukee’s first triple play since Sept. 23, 2016, when Cincinnati’s Joey Votto lined out to first base. Molina was also the last Cardinals player to hit into a triple play when he grounded out to third base at Boston on Aug. 15, 2017.

TRAINING ROOM

Brewers: Counsell said it was too early to prognosticate Anderson’s status after departing with the blister.

Cardinals: St. Louis president of baseball operations John Mozeliak announced that RHP Dakota Hudson will have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Monday. Hudson went 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA in eight starts before leaving his start on Sept. 17 at Pittsburgh with right elbow discomfort after two innings.

UP NEXT

Brewers: The Brewers head to Los Angeles and will likely be without two of their top starters in Anderson and Corbin Burnes, who sustained a left oblique injury on Thursday.

Cardinals: This will be the fourth postseason series between St. Louis and San Diego, who faced each other in 1996, 2005, and 2006 in the Division Series.