Curtis Granderson and the Mets look to stay hot at the plate as they even try to even the series tonight
David Wright is one heck of a ball player — always has been. It feels as if that has been forgotten over the course of the past five seasons. Wright has missed 268 games since the start of the 2011 season, including 124 games this season, thanks to a constant barrage of injuries. One DL stint after the other, it seems.
Wright, 32, is the Mets’ captain and long-time third baseman. He is truly one of the good guys of the game, always smiling, cordial, interacting with fans at the ballpark or on the New York City streets — one of the easiest players an opposing fan could ever root for. He is a career .298/.377/.462 hitter, a seven-time All-Star, and a two-time Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award winner, and at one time seemed like a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
But last night was the moment that Wright and Mets fans had been waiting for, the moment that would erase all of those pesky injuries, the back issues, the time spent on the DL, the six straight losing seasons — even if just for that moment. And when that moment finally arrived, Wright delivered.
With Curtis Granderson on first and the Mets trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first, Wright stepped in against Yordano Ventura. Wright turned on an 0-1, 96 MPH fastball from Ventura, sending it deep into the left-center field bleachers and transforming Citi Field into a New York ruckus. Wright knew it was gone as soon as hide hit lumber.
Wright wasn’t done. For an encore, he added two more RBIs in the bottom of the sixth inning with a bases loaded, one-out single, a line drive bullet to center, scoring Juan Uribe and Wilmer Flores, breaking the game wide open for the Mets as they took Game 3, 9-3.
Mets fans turned Citi Field into somewhat of a homecoming for Wright last night. It was a celebration for Wright as the player and as the Mets’ captain both on and off the field. I’ve never rooted for the Mets a day in my life, but as Wright rounded first base after his first inning home run, I couldn’t help but smile for him.
Good for you David Wright. You deserve it.
World Series Game 4: Kansas City Royals at New York Mets
Time: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)
Pitching Matchup: RH Chris Young (11-6, 3.06) vs. LH Steven Matz (4-0, 2.27)
Three Things to Watch
1. Mound Matchup
Royals manager Ned Yost will send veteran right-hander, Chris Young, to the mound tonight for Kansas City. Young’s start will be his second appearance in this series, as he pitched three sterling relief frames back in the Game 1 marathon, throwing 53 pitches and earning the win for the Royals in 14 innings. Young may resemble Randy Johnson because of his tall frame (6-10), but none of his pitches echo that of the Big Unit’s. Young uses his height more for deception, utilizing different arm angles to fool hitters with his off-speed pitches and breaking fastball that hardly ever tops 90 mph. Since Young did pitch in Game 1, surely Yost will be quick to go to his bullpen in the early innings if necessary.
Lefty Steven Matz is tasked with tying the series for the Mets. Matt grew up in the New York area and is a lifelong Mets fan, so this moment has to land somewhere near childhood fantasy territory. Matz threw just 35 2/3 innings in six regular season starts after a torn lat muscle sidelined the 24-year-old for a majority of the summer. In his first postseason appearance, Matz earned the loss in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, giving up three runs over six innings. He rebounded in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Cubs, surrendering just one run and four hits over 4 2/3 innings.
Matz will be commuting from his parents’ home in Long Island to Citi Field before his Game 4 start — a drive he will surely relish.
2. Managers' Bullpen Maneuvers
In Game 3, both Yost and the Mets’ Terry Collins used most of their best bullpen arms, and I can’t quite figure out why. Yost’s situation was a little more understandable. Entering the bottom of the sixth inning, the Royals were down 5-3. Franklin Morales had an inning he would rather forget, allowing four runs with a hit batter, two hits, and a mental breakdown that loaded the bases for David Wright with one out. We know how that turned out.
But after the Morales’ gaffe, Yost called upon Kelvin Herrera, one of the best relievers in baseball to get out of the jam — already down three. Herrera forfeited a hit and a run, but ultimately got out of the inning. In the seventh, Yost tabbed Ryan Madson to pitch — another one of the best relievers in baseball — down four. I understand that Yost wanted to keep the game close for his rather hot offense, but why would he throw two of his three best relievers knowing that Chris Young was taking the mound the next night on a short leash and short rest? Weird.
But Collins only increased the head scratching by using his three best bullpen arms in the final innings. Addison Reed pitched in the seventh, Tyler Clippard in the eighth, and Jeurys Familia in the ninth — all with a six-run lead. Some may argue that Collins was simply keeping his best bullpen arms fresh, and in the case of Familia, getting him additional work to move past the blown save from Game 1. But why would Familia lack for confidence? He's been the best closer in the game since July. Baffling.
Collins finds himself in the same position as Yost, as both have used their best bullpen pitchers the night before both starting pitchers are likely to be pulled early.
3. Can the Mets’ bats stay hot?
Game 3 was a Gotham City revival for the Mets. After the heartbreak of Game 1 and the beating in Game 2, the series could have gotten away from the Mets last night. The Mets battled back with a fantastic offensive showing that was desperately needed. Both Granderson and Wright went 2-for-5 with two-run home runs. Wright chipped in four RBIs while Granderson scores three times.
Granderson had quietly been the best hitter in the Mets’ lineup in the early goings of the series, but finally received the support New York desperately needed in Game 3. Assuming Granderson stays hot at the top of the lineup, who else can step up for the Mets? If it isn’t Wright or Yoenis Cespedes, it could be Lucas Duda. Duda is hitting .455 in the series thus far, but only has scored once with a single RBI and doesn't have an extra-base hit. The slugging first baseman would be a welcome addition to the recent Mets’ hit parade.
Prediction: Mets 5, Royals 4
— 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.