KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It had perhaps the strangest World Series delay in history, the craziest World Series homer in nearly a century, two critical errors, a dramatic ninth-inning home run and one of the most courageous pitching performances anyone can imagine.
Where else can you have a game stopped by a TV power outage, the first World Series inside-the-park homer since 1929, an error that resurrected memories of Bill Buckner and a lights-out closer giving up a homer to the No. 8 hitter?
By early Wednesday morning, Game 1 of the World Series might be remembered simply for being one of the most memorable produced in October.
The Kansas City Royals, who lost the 2014 World Series, pulled out a stunning 5-4, 14-inning victory against the New York Mets, tying the score on Alex Gordon’s one-out homer in the ninth off Jeurys Familia and after Mets right fielder Curtis Granderson made a brilliant running catch in the 11th, winning it when Alcides Escobar scored on Eric Hosmer’s sacrifice fly.
Royals win wild Game 1 with 14th inning walk-off
Escobar reached on an error by David Wright to lead off the 14th inning. He went to third on a Ben Zobrist single to right with no outs.
Chris Young, the 6-10 right-hander expected to start Game 4, earned the win with three scoreless innings of relief. Bartolo Colon, 42, took the loss.
Familia had converted 21 consecutive saves before Tuesday.
The game lasted more than five hours and tied for the longest, by innings, in World Series history.
It was only the eighth time in World Series history that Game 1 went extra innings and just the second time in 38 years.
The victory spared first baseman Hosmer of earning the ignominy of that Buckner moment in the 1986 World Series won by the Mets, when Wilmer Flores’ bouncer in the eighth inning skipped over Hosmer’s glove. Flores was the first batter to put his team ahead by reaching on an error in the eighth inning or later of a World Series since, yes, Mookie Wilson’s grounder went between Buckner’s legs in 1986.
When it was all over, the Royals were more concerned for the welfare of starter Edinson Volquez than a mere game. It’s hard to fathom the courage it took for Volquez to take the mound, with his father, Daniel, 63, dying just hours earlier in the day in the Dominican Republic. He had been battling heart disease, and it was unknown whether Volquez was informed of the death before the game.
ASBURY PARK PRESS
Royals’ Edinson Volquez’s father dies before Game 1 start
It was the latest tragedy the Royals has endured these last couple of months.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas’ mom died of cancer in August, but he kept playing without a missing a game, withholding the news publicly for a month.
Young’s father died in September, but Young pitched the next day, throwing five no-hit innings, before leaving for the funeral.
It’s also not known whether Volquez, who pitched six strong innings, yielding six hits and three runs, will be available for the rest of the series.
Certainly, this game had a strange eeriness from the outset.
The Mets, who had gone 12 days and 41 innings since last trailing in a game, watched the streak end one pitch into the game.
Escobar swung at the first pitch delivered by Mets starter Matt Harvey and sent it into toward the left-center-field gap. Center fielder Yoenis Cespedes and left fielder Michael Conforto converged on it.
Conforto pulled up.
Cespedes over-ran the ball and tried to backhand it, but the ball went off his knee and away from everyone.
Escobar kept running and didn’t stop until he crossed the plate.
It was the first inside-the-park home run in the World Series since 1929, when Chicago Cubs outfielder Hack Wilson lost Philadelphia Athletics center fielder Mule Haas’ ball in the sun.
Yet Harvey refused to let the Mets lose.
Game 1 of World Series delayed after Fox Sports telecast lost power
Despite pitching on 10 days’ rest, Harvey was fabulous and bucked a trend of starters’ failures when pitching with extra time off. Since the wild-card era in 1995, pitchers starting on at least nine days’ rest in the World Series had gone 14-23 record with a 4.36 ERA.
Really, the only thing that came close to stopping Harvey in the first five innings was Fox TV.
Harvey, who had given up only one single after Escobar’s homer, was told to stop pitching when Fox lost its feed. He stood around and threw a few warm-up pitches for 10 minutes while the game was stopped.
Finally, the decision was made that the game could go on, without the benefit of instant replay, when the umpires consulted with MLB executive Joe Torre. Fox TV lost power in its truck, and the powerful station merely used Major League Baseball’s international feed. The two teams went an inning without the benefit of replay before it was restored to the clubhouses in the fifth inning.
“A rare electronics failure caused both the primary and backup generators inside the Fox Sports production compound to lose power,” Fox said in a statement. The issue was immediately addressed, although it resulted in the audience missing one at-bat during the time needed to switch to carriage of Major League Baseball’s international feed, powered by a different generator on site. The on-field delay was due to replay capability being lost in both team’s clubhouses.”
Game 1 of World Series delayed after Fox Sports telecast lost power
Volquez, with three hitless innings, gave up a leadoff single to Daniel Murphy that ignited the Mets’ attack. Before he knew it, there was Lucas Duda powering the ball through the shift into right field, followed by Travis d’Arnaud’s hot smash that went in and out of third baseman Moustakas’ glove, tying the score at 1-apiece.
The Mets never slowed down, with Granderson going deep, taking Volquez’s 95-mph high fastball over the right-field fence, and scoring another run on Conforto’s sacrifice fly.
Yet these are the relentless Royals, the mosquitoes of 2015. You can’t kill them. The harder you throw, the harder the Royals hit them.
Harvey found out the hard way why the Royals struck out only 11.7% of the time facing fastballs of 94 mph or faster this season. Harvey, with his fastball hitting 96 mph, struck out just Kendrys Morales in the fourth inning and Gordon in the fifth. It equaled Harvey’s lowest strikeout total of the season, when he also struck out two June 10 against the San Francisco Giants.
The Royals found a way to score, even without botched plays in the outfield, when they tied the score in the sixth on three hits and a sacrifice fly, Moustakas tying it 3-3 with his two-out single. Harvey was done after six innings, yielding five hits and three runs.
History is on the Royals’ side now. The winner of Game 1 has won 11 of the last 12 World Series and 16 of the last 18.
The Royals coasted through the regular season with 95 victories, their most since 1980, but they’ve been battling for survival this postseason. They were down by four runs in the eighth inning of an elimination game against the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series and knocked off the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 6, after escaping a huge ninth-inning jam when the Blue Jays were just 90 feet away from tying the AL Championship Series.
“The only team people remember are the champions,” Moustakas said before the game. “That’s what made it so tough last year. When you’re 90 feet of tying that game and lose, it’s a tough one to swallow. It’s going to stick with you for a long time, no matter what.
“Now that we’re back to the World Series, the only way to get rid of that feeling is to go out and finish the deal.
“We’ve got no choice.”
GALLERY: METS-ROYALS WORLD SERIES CLASH
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