Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mets Keep the Faith after a Shaky Start

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mets Keep the Faith after a Shaky Start

Article excerpt

KANSAS CITY - Maybe Noah Syndergaard was just having a little fun with a what-if question. Or maybe he thought he knew something about the Royals that no one else did. Either way, this was a World Series prediction that made you sit up and take notice.

"I think we're going to get it done in four," Syndergaard said on the eve of the Fall Classic. He was answering a question from The Record's Matt Ehalt about pitching Game 7 - that's how the Mets' rotation is set up - even if the Mets didn't dare talk about sweeping the American League champs. Not then, and certainly not now.

The Mets took the Royals all the way to the 14th inning before David Wright's throwing error indirectly led to a 5-4 loss in Game 1. Eric Hosmer's sacrifice fly with the bases loaded ended it. The Mets now look to Jacob deGrom, their best pitch, to even the Series tonight.

Most everyone assumed it would take seven games to determine a world champion, although that doesn't make it any easier for the Mets to accept how this one got away. Jeurys Familia was only two outs from saving a 4-3 victory before allowing a massive solo home run to Alex Gordon that sent the game into extra innings.

And in the 14th, Wright threw wide to first on Alcides Escobar's grounder, which mushroomed into a bases-loaded, none-out rally against Bartolo Colon. That's when Hosmer lifted a fly ball to Curtis Granderson, who made a strong throw to the plate, but not in time to nail Escobar.

The Mets had taken a 4-3 lead in the eighth when first baseman Hosmer misplayed Wilmer Flores' two-out grounder, allowing Juan Lagares to score from second.

And with Familia, who was 5-for-5 in save opportunities this postseason, in to protect the lead, the Mets were safe, right?

Not exactly.

Ironically, this was exactly the war the Mets didn't want to wage - a battle of the bullpens.

When manager Terry Collins said, "We don't plan on being behind after the sixth," it meant he wasn't counting on being tied, either.

But that's the predicament the Mets found themselves in, having wasted a 3-1 lead they'd built after five innings. Everything had gone according to plan until that point, especially as Matt Harvey had settled down and retired 11 in a row.

It would be misleading to say Harvey pitched well, but he certainly didn't crater in the face of his first World Series appearance, either. He was the victim of a bizarre inside the park homer by leadoff hitter Escobar in the first inning, subsequently found his groove but then was clearly wilting in the sixth as the Royals scored two runs to tie the game.

Harvey lasted only 80 pitches, but Collins had seen enough. He called for Addison Reed to start the seventh, which sent the Mets hurtling into no-man's land. Without a dependable bridge to closer Familia, the Mets will be at a distinct disadvantage through the Series; the Royals' relief corps, especially with set-up man Kelvin Herrera and closer Wade Davis, are rock solid. …

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