Mets’ Game 3 win gives Series whole new look — for now
NEW YORK – It can turn as quickly on Saturday as it did on Friday. By the time Halloween is over, the Royals could lead the World Series, three games to one, and the Mets could be even more desperate than they were after losing Games 1 and 2.
Ah, but in a best-of-seven, the narrative changes so quickly. The Mets’ resounding 9-3 victory Friday night gave the Series an entirely different look, and suddenly it’s easy to imagine the teams returning to Kansas City for Game 6 and maybe even going a full seven.
The Mets finally hit Friday night. The Royals finally looked mortal. And the way the starting pitching sets up for the next two games, let’s just say the Series could – repeat, could -- turn quite interesting.
Royals righty Chris Young vs. Mets lefty Steven Matz in Game 4 figures to be decided by the bullpens, but the Mets at least hold one advantage – they’ve already faced Young, seeing 53 of his pitches in Game 1, while the Royals have never faced Matz.
Young also will work on three days’ rest, but even if he is not as good as he was during his three scoreless innings of relief in Game 1, the Royals should be well-positioned. Franklin Morales was their only reliever to throw more than 16 pitches Friday night, and closer Wade Davis did not pitch. Then again, the Mets now have had extended looks at the Royals’ bullpen in two of the three games – and in Game 3 they even got to righty Kelvin Herrera, who allowed all three of his inherited runners to score.
Now, let’s take this a step further and look ahead to Game 5 - Royals righty Edinson Volquez vs. Mets righty Matt Harvey. Volquez, who returned Wednesday to his native Dominican Republic following the death of his father, plans to rejoin the Royals on Saturday and pitch Sunday. But who knows what his physical and emotional state will be?
Pitching coach Dave Eiland talked to Volquez on Friday afternoon, saying that Volquez sounded as somber as one might imagine but promised, "I’ll be ready." Game 5 at that point was not assured of being played. It is now. And for all anyone knows, Volquez will pitch the game of his life in memory of his father.
Eiland said he didn’t have the heart to ask Volquez whether he has thrown while at home. It might not matter – pitchers often skip or curtail side sessions this late in the year. What’s more, after several days of grieving, Volquez almost certainly will be relieved to rejoin his teammates and pitch again. But at the very least, he will face a unique challenge.
Harvey, meanwhile, will pitch on normal rest as opposed to the nine-day break he had between Game 1 of the NLCS and Game 1 of the World Series – a break that he believes disrupted his rhythm. And if Harvey wins, Jacob deGrom will get his own second chance in Game 6, on five days’ rest as opposed to the seven he had before his disappointing start in Game 2.
Shall we keep going? Game 7 would be a rematch of Noah Syndergaard, who endured for six innings Friday night after allowing three runs and six hits in the first two, against Yordano Ventura, who had his lowest average velocity of the season and lasted only 3 1/3 innings.
I know, I know — I’m acting as a FOX shill, lusting for a competitive Series, twisting the narrative to suit my own purposes. Still, let’s not forget that Game 1 lasted 14 innings. The Royals won only after tying the score on a ninth-inning homer by Alex Gordon off Mets closer Jeurys Familia – a "one-in-a-million" shot in the view of the Mets’ Kelly Johnson, considering that Familia resumed his recent dominance with a scoreless inning on Friday night.
Game 2 was a rout for the Royals, Game 3 a rout for the Mets. And with two more games at Citi Field, it’s important to remember that since 2006, American League teams in the World Series are 8-18 in NL parks.
Royals DH Kendrys Morales was a non-factor Friday night, grounding out as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning. The Royals also are one bench bat short due to their decision to carry Raul Mondesi over their version of Juan Uribe, Jonny Gomes. We’ll see how that plays out the next two nights.
Hey, it’s Halloween, and the Royals easily could return to form in Game 4 and turn the Mets back into ghosts. I’m not convinced it will happen, though. That FOX-spun narrative I created? It’s not so far-fetched.