Royals defeat Mets 7-2 in 12 innings, winning their first World Series since 1985

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A ninth-inning rally and a 12th-inning tiebreaking RBI single by Christian Colon sent the Kansas City Royals to their first championship since 1985. It was a game the Mets appeared to have comfortably in the bag, considering how well starter Matt Harvey was pitching. But as the Royals have shown time and time again, you can never count them out.

The Mets quickly took a 1-0 lead when Curtis Granderson led off the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run against Royals starter Edinson Volquez. Harvey proved, through eight innings, it was all the offense he required. The Mets gave him an insurance run in the sixth on a Lucas Duda sacrifice in the sixth inning. That inning also included what appeared to be an ugly injury to Yoenis Cespedes after he fouled a ball off of his left knee. He completed his at-bat but was replaced in the outfield the next inning by Juan Lagares. Cespedes was diagnosed with a contusion and thankfully avoided a fracture.

After Harvey completed the eighth inning in strong fashion, he was informed by pitching coach Dan Warthen he would not be returning to the mound in the ninth inning to complete his start. Harvey apparently made a compelling argument to manager Terry Collins, as closer Jeurys Familia remained in the bullpen and Harvey toed the slab to begin the ninth.

Harvey worked a full count against leadoff batter Lorenzo Cain before throwing ball four. Cain stole second base, and scored when Eric Hosmer ripped a double over the head of Michael Conforto in left field. Familia was finally brought in. He induced a grounder to the right side from Mike Moustakas, pushing Hosmer to third base. The Mets’ infield was drawn in, and Salvador Perez hit what appeared to be an easy second out, a grounder to third base, for the Mets that would prevent the runner at third from scoring. However, third baseman David Wright made a crow-hop in throwing to first base. Hosmer bolted home, and first baseman Lucas Duda made an errant throw to catcher Travis d'Arnaud. The game was tied at 2-2.

The two clubs would trade zeroes until the 12th inning. In the 12th, Mets reliever Addison Reed allowed a leadoff single to Perez. The speedy Jarrod Dyson entered the game as a pinch-runner for Perez and stole second base, the Royals’ fourth stolen base of the game. Alex Gordon hit a ground out to first base, which allowed Dyson to move to third. The next batter, Christian Colon, hit a line drive single to left field, plating Dyson to break the 2-2 tie. It didn’t stop there. Paulo Orlando appeared to hit an inning-ending double play to second baseman Daniel Murphy, but Murphy — as he did in Game 4 — booted the ball and no outs were recorded.

Following that, Alcides Escobar doubled to left field, adding an insurance run, putting two more runners in scoring position, and chasing Reed from the game. Bartolo Colon came in and Cain drilled a bases-clearing double to left-center, pushing the lead to 7-2. Colon was able to get out of the inning mercifully with no further damage.

Closer Wade Davis took over in the bottom half of the 12th and, as he has done so often, dominated the opposition. He struck out Duda and d’Arnaud, then worked around a single by Michael Conforto by striking out Wilmer Flores looking.

The Royals succeeded against the Mets in large part because they’re an aggressive-running, high-contact team. Only one American League team — the Astros — had more stolen bases than the Royals’ 104 during the regular season. No team struck out less often than the Royals during the regular season, getting a third strike in fewer than 16 percent of their plate appearances. The Royals went 6-for-6 stealing bases against the Mets in the World Series while racking up double-digit hits in three of five games. They had nine and seven hits in the other two.

But the Mets also made more than their fair share of mistakes, both by the players and by the manager (as I will explain in a separate column). Murphy made two devastating defensive mistakes, and Duda’s throw in the ninth inning could have ended Game 5 rather than extending it. This is not to take anything away from the Royals, but every success has a counterpart in failure.

The Royals, who narrowly lost last year’s World Series, have finally reached the promised land. The difficult decision-making doesn’t stop here, however, as they’ll head into an off-season in which they’ll see Alex Gordon, Johnny Cueto, and Ben Zobrist head into free agency while more than a handful of players will earn increasingly more money in arbitration. Their ability to deal with a changing roster will determine whether or not they’ll be able to repeat in 2016.

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.