Thor outpitches Mad Max

Thor drops the hammer on the Nats . . .

Thor drops the hammer on the Nats . . .

How do you follow up a game in which you nailed twenty strikeouts? If you’re Max Scherzer, who punched out twenty Tigers in a start last week, you go to New York, face Noah Syndergaard—the lightning Met who hits 100 on the radar gun with frightening regularity—and come up short despite matching Thor ten punchouts to ten punchouts.

It’s not that you pitched horribly against these Mets. It’s just that you threw two pitches you shouldn’t have. Two pitches that flew out faster than you threw them. And on a night Syndergaard was Thor to the tenth power, and the Mets bullpen didn’t have an arsonist among them, that isn’t enough.

WS Game Three: Thor’s hammer from Brushback Mountain

Escobar, knocked out of his lounger to open Game Three . . .

Escobar, knocked out of his lounger to open Game Three . . .

Thor swung his hammer right out of the chute. And the New York Mets hammered and tonged the Kansas City Royals to make the World Series an honest-to-God Series again Friday night.

Noah Syndergaard said before Game Three that he had a trick up his sleeve in store for the Royals. What he really had was an opening argument to deliver. Not in the second inning. Not in the third. Not in the fourth or the fifth. Right out of the chute, top of the first, first pitch. Essentially, the message read thus:

WS Game Two: When a gut runs empty

Collins (in jacket, amidst Wilmer Flores, David Wright, and Travis d'Arnaud) stayed with deGrom's gut just a little too long in Game Two . . .

Collins (in jacket, amidst Wilmer Flores, David Wright, and Travis d’Arnaud) stayed with deGrom’s gut just a little too long in Game Two . . .

Standing by your man and trusting his gut is one of the most admirable qualities a baseball manager can have. Until or unless even his gut runs out of sustenance. When Jacob deGrom’s gut ran out of sustenance in the fifth inning Wednesday night, Terry Collins was caught flatfoot.

WS Game One: Crazyball

What Escobar began on the first pitch with a little help from two miscommunicating Mets . . .

What Escobar began on the first pitch with a little help from two miscommunicating Mets . . .

Open a World Series with an inside-the-park home run thanks to an unexpected brain vapour by the opposing battery and a pair of outfielders. Finish the game after fourteen innings and with a sacrifice fly.

These Kansas City Royals may have done crazier things than that in their two-season-and-maybe-counting return to American League supremacy. But they’re not about to bet on it.

No Cubs curses, just too much Mets

Big champagne for a big NLCS sweep . . .

Big champagne for a big NLCS sweep . . .

Time alone will determine whether the Mets and the Cubs develop a history between them comparable to that between the Yankees and the Red Sox for so many decades. Neither team wants to think about things like that right now.

The Mets want to think about preparing for and even winning the World Series. The Cubs want to think about how they’ve still got a brighter immediate future now than their own arduous history or their dispatch from this postseason suggest. Neither thought is entirely untenable.

For the Mets, a blowout beats a brushback

Granderson didn't have to clear the fences to drive in five leading the Mets' Game Three ambush . . .

Granderson didn’t have to clear the fences to drive in five leading the Mets’ Game Three ambush . . .

They didn’t get Chase Utley’s head on a plate, or his body sprawling in the batter’s box, Monday night. Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly—perhaps engaging a little gamesmanship—kept Utley out of the lineup as either a starter or a late-inning replacement. And New York Mets manager Terry Collins made a public enough show of ordering no retaliation, anyway.

Pain, not champagne for the Nots—er, Nats . . .

Harper's Saturday game winner was too late for these Nats, alas . . .

Harper’s Saturday game winner was too late for these Nats, alas . . .

This was the kind of situation the Nats always want, Stephen Strasburg striking out thirteen Phillies, and Bryce Harper smashing a game-winning double in the bottom of the twelfth Saturday afternoon. And it didn’t mean a thing anymore when it ended in a 2-1 Nats win.

Because almost an hour before Harper tagged Phillies reliever Colton Murray with one out, Mets closer Jeurys Familia finished the Mets’ destruction of the Reds in Cincinnati to clinch the none-too-potent National League East. The division just about all the experts picked the Nats to run away with, all the way to a World Series crown, even.

Dosvedanya, Dombrowski

Dombrowski hoisting one of the Tigers' AL pennant trophies.

Dombrowski hoisting one of the Tigers’ AL pennant trophies.

First, the Tigers all but threw the proverbial towel in on 2015 when they unloaded three otherwise key parts at the non-waiver trade deadline. Then, they showed they weren’t kidding by letting general manager Dave Dombrowski go just months before his current contract would expire.

“They basically told me they decided to change direction of leadership in the organization,” Dombrowski told the Detroit Free Press a day later. ”It’s kind of like an end of an era. You never like to see it end.” But he said he saw it end when his assistant GM Al Avila showed up at the ballpark Tuesday and looked as though something just wasn’t right.

The NL East race tightens up, Du-da, Du-da . . .

Duda doesn't mind making you pay one bit for your skipper's brain farts . . .

Duda doesn’t mind making you pay one bit for your skipper’s brain farts . . .

All the Mets had to do to get power hitting but often inconsistent Lucas Duda back in gear was bring aboard Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe and have manager Terry Collins let Duda know, no questions asked, that it was time to produce runs now or the Mets, somehow, would get someone else. And all Duda did was look the boss right in the eye and say, “I got it.”

Johnny Royal, no-hit Cole, other trade winds, and Grienke’s streak stopped

Looks like he's Johnny Royal now . . .

Looks like he’s Johnny Royal now . . .

On the day where the big news should be a staggering group of pitchers (Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz) and a sneaky-great infielder (Craig Biggio) entering the Hall of Fame, the Reds dealing Johnny Cueto to the Royals, right after Cueto knocked down health concerns with eight shutout innings against the Rockies in a park that normally vaporises pitching, threatens to equal it.