Right now, and at least until Game Five gets underway Sunday night, it must absolutely suck to be Daniel Murphy, Yoenis Cespedes, and Terry Collins. Oh, to be back in Chicago, when Murphy was a hero of heroes, Cespedes’s inexplicable postseason disappearance could be covered, and Collins looked like someone in training to be a genius.
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:
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.
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.
In 1946 it was Enos Slaughter’s mad dash home in the eighth inning while Johnny Pesky held the ball. (Actually, he didn’t, but Pesky had no chance to throw home in time after taking a high throw in from center field.) And it meant a World Series triumph for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Almost seventy years later, it was Lorenzo Cain’s mad dash home while Jose Bautista threw to second. Also in the eighth inning. But it meant a trip to the World Series for the Kansas City Royals Friday night.
What to take away from the All-Star Game other than the American League’s 6-3 win and thus home field advantage for this year’s World Series? The Mike Trout Show?
* Trout (Angels) became the first player in 38 years to lead off an All-Star Game going deep, hitting Zack Greinke’s (Dodgers) fourth pitch the other way, into the right field seats next to the Great American Ballpark visitors’ bullpen. Add scoring ahead of a powerful throw by Joc Pedersen (Dodgers) on Prince Fielder’s (Rangers) single in the fifth, and Trout—who’d reached base in the first place by beating out what might have been a double play finisher—joined Willie Mays, Steve Garvey, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Gary Carter as baseball’s only two-time All-Star Game MVPs.
I didn’t cast my own All-Star vote until this past Thursday, but I’d like to think that I applied a little more intelligence and a lot less up yours to the exercise than seems to have been applied by those determined to stuff the American League’s starting lineup with Kansas City Royals whether or not said Royals (I’ll get to that shortly) actually deserve starting berths.
Hands up to everyone who expected Game Six to be a blowout on either side. Join the club, I didn’t expect it either. So let’s be reasonable, consider the source, and call what the Kansas City Royals did Tuesday night a 10-0 slashout.
Now, hands up to everyone who thought the Royals would hang up a seven-spot in the second inning Tuesday night. Join the club, I didn’t expect that, either. But there they were. The Roach Coach’s windows were wiped, the oil was changed, the tank was filled with fuel, and the Royals sent it into runaway train mode before the San Francisco Giants had a clue to what was hitting them.
The seventh inning proved to be the poison that took down Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League division series. The sixth inning Wednesday night proved to be poisonous for the San Francisco Giants in Game Two of the World Series. In more than one way.
Some put it this way: The Kansas City Royals only have to win four out of the next six games, and they may only have to deal with Madison Bumgarner in the fourth of the six, if the World Series gets that far in the first place. Makes it sound simple enough, right? All they have to do otherwise is keep the San Francisco Giants from swarming forth right out of the chute.