In order to save their season and this World Series from the brink of elimination, the New York Mets needed to jump on Kansas City Royals starter Yordano Ventura in the early innings and show some grit in the batter’s box. Mets’ starter Noah Syndergaard showed his own moxie with the very first pitch of the game, buzzing the tower of white-hot leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar, allowing Escobar to sit on his backside for a few moments before striking him out swinging.
The Royals' lineup that had been raking to start the series, struck first for the second time in three games, this time on an Eric Hosmer RBI groundout that scored Ben Zobrist. It seemed as if all series long the Royals have had the answer for the Mets' power arms and Syndergaard was simply the next victim.
But for everything that the Royals did offensively in the early innings, the Mets’ bats finally had an answer. Mets’ captain and third baseman David Wright responded by sending an 0-1 pitch to the left-center field bleachers for a two-out, two-run home run, giving the Mets a 2-1 lead and sending Citi Field into a deafening frenzy.
The Royals came back with two more runs of their own in the top of the second, thanks to Alex Rios’ one-out, line-drive single to left field, scoring Salvador Perez. After a passed ball got by Mets’ catcher Travis d’Arnaud, Rios scored the go-ahead run, restoring the Royals' lead at 3-2 going into the bottom of the second.
The Kansas City lead was to be short-lived. After Syndergaard singled to start off the bottom of the second, Mets leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson stepped into the batter’s box to face the flame-throwing Ventura. Granderson sent a 2-1 pitch from Ventura zooming into the Flushing night, as the ball just cleared the far right field fence, giving the Mets a 4-3 lead and Granderson his second hit of the night.
Ventura’s night didn't get any better. Lucas Duda led off the bottom of the fourth with a single, followed by a double to left from d'Arnaud to put two runners into scoring position with no outs. Then rookie left fielder Michael Conforto hit a chopper to no man’s land between first and second base. Royals Gold Glove first baseman Eric Hosmer fielded it, ranging far away from the bag, leaving him with no play. Duda scored and after a pop up in foul territory from Mets shortstop and No. 8 hitter Wilmer Flores, Ventura's night was over, exiting the game trailing 5-3. His final line for the night was not pretty: (3 1/3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, K, 2 HR). The Mets did exactly what they needed to do — striking early against Ventura.
On the other hand, after a rough first two innings, Syndergaard settled down with four straight scoreless frames, finishing the night with six innings pitched, giving up just three earned runs on seven hits, two walks while striking out six.
After Ventura exited stage left, the Royals ran an assembly line of relievers to the mound over the next two innings including Danny Duffy, Luke Hochervar and Franklin Morales. The Mets were able to tag Morales in the bottom of the sixth, as a single, a hit by pitch and the another single by pinch-hitter Juan Uribe scored Juan Lagares. The next batter, Granderson, hit a high chopper back to Morales in front of the mound. Morales hesitated between throwing the ball to try to get one of the two runners already on base. Ultimately, Morales threw the ball well wide of second base, as all runners were safe on the fielder's choice. Morales' night was over just 22 pitches in.
Kelvin Herrera replaced Morales, but the nightmare inning was only made worse when Wright knocked in two more runs with a one-out line drive into center field, scoring Uribe and Flores, Wright’s third and fourth RBIs on the night. The bottom of the sixth finally ended three batters, but not before Yoenis Cespedes’ sacrifice fly drove in Granderson, giving the Mets a 9-3 lead.
Addison Reed took over the mound for the Mets in the seventh and sat down the Royals in short order, as did Tyler Clippard in the eighth and Jeurys Familia in the ninth to lock up New York's first win of the Series. Mets manager Terry Collins’ move to use his three best relief pitchers with a six-run lead was more than interesting — and quite frankly, perplexing.
But the bottom line is that the Mets did exactly what they needed to do: put up runs against Ventura early and not allow the Royals to utilize their top-notch bullpen. The New York lineup, led by Wright and Granderson, finally delivered, scoring nine runs on 12 hits. The Mets showed the grit necessary to get back into this series, right from the first pitch.
Game 4 is tonight at Citi Field, with first pitch coming at 8:07 p.m. ET. The Royals will send their veteran hurler Chris Young to the mound against the Mets’ young lefty, Steven Matz.
— Written by Jake Rose, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. An avid baseball fan, Rose also takes time to do some play-by-play work for the radio broadcasts of Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider baseball games. Follow him on Twitter @JakeRose24.