While carrying a heavy heart to the mound, Edinson Volquez will try to fulfill his dream of ending the Kansas City Royals’ 30-year championship drought.
Volquez will pitch for the first time since his father’s funeral in the Dominican Republic in Game 5 of the World Series against the New York Mets on Sunday night.
Volquez wasn’t told until after Game 1 on Tuesday that his 63-year-old father, Daniel, had passed away earlier in the day because of heart failure. The 32-year-old right-hander gave up three runs in six innings then left for his native country after the Royals’ 5-4 win in 14 innings in Kansas City.
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"If my wife told me before (Game 1), I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to pitch. She decided to tell me later, and I think that was the right choice," he said.
Volquez was back with the team Saturday, just before the start of Game 4, and watched Kansas City move to the brink of the franchise’s second World Series title with a 5-3 victory.
An eighth-inning error by NL Championship Series MVP Daniel Murphy opened the door for another Royals comeback. Mike Moustakas followed with a go-ahead single, and Salvador Perez provided some insurance with another RBI base hit.
That seventh comeback victory in this postseason has Volquez in position to craft a storybook ending while honoring his late father.
"I just want to thank God for my opportunity … to be on the mound and show the world what I have to compete with other team and give our team a chance to win," he said. "I’m pretty sure my dad is going to be proud of me when I pitch (Sunday)."
Kansas City’s Game 4 starter Chris Young faced a similar situation Sept. 27, one day after the death of his father, and didn’t allow a hit in five innings in a 3-0 win over Cleveland.
"These are huge games. Edi’s been with this team all year long. He’s worked so hard to get to this point," manager Ned Yost said. "And it was like Chris Young when his dad passed away. Chris just knew how proud his dad was of him and that his dad would want him to carry on.
"His dad would want him to be on that mound and helping his team win. And I imagine that Edi’s dad would want the same thing."
Matt Harvey will once again oppose Volquez and attempt to send the World Series back to Kansas City for a Game 6 on Tuesday. The right-hander also allowed three runs in six innings in Game 1, giving up two in the sixth.
Harvey will try to write a different story while improving on his 7-1 record and 1.49 ERA in 13 home starts dating back to June 16. He’s earned wins in each of his two games at Citi Field this postseason and gave up two runs in 7 2-3 innings in a 4-2 victory over Chicago in Game 1 of the NLCS.
"Obviously, I love pitching here at Citi Field. They give me great energy," Harvey said. "For me, I think it’s a lot of excitement, but yet it’s still a baseball game, and I still have to go out and do my job."
Volquez, meanwhile, is 0-3 with an 8.76 ERA in three career road playoff starts and 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in his two this year. He gave up five runs in five-plus innings in a 7-1 loss to Toronto in Game 5 of the ALCS.
Volquez is also 0-3 with a 5.66 ERA in four career starts at Citi Field, last pitching there in May 2014, while with Pittsburgh.
He’ll try to keep the Mets from jumping out to another early lead. Michael Conforto’s second solo homer Saturday had New York up 3-1 in the fifth inning.
Conforto was the first rookie to hit a pair of homers in a World Series game since Atlanta’s Andruw Jones in 1996 at Yankee Stadium.
Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar seeks to establish an MLB record with a 15-game hit streak in a single postseason. Escobar, batting .367 with a .951 OPS during his run, set the Royals’ longest playoff hit streak with a leadoff single Saturday and got an inside-the-park home run on Harvey’s first pitch Tuesday.
Ben Zobrist has a record-tying eight doubles in the postseason and hit his fourth in this series in Game 4. He doubled in one of his three at-bats against Harvey.