Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mets-Royals World Series Game 3: The Captain rights the ship

Before last night, David Wright was evoking memories of another captain who overstayed his welcome in the top part of the lineup. Then Wright showed how wrong those of us who doubted him were when he hit a two-run homer in his first home at bat in the World Series and later singled in two more runs to put Game 3 out of reach. The Mets' bats woke up to the tune of nine runs, and not a moment too soon. Now it's a Series again.

While Noah Syndergaard set the tone with his first pitch, high and inside, got twelve straight outs at one point, and worked out of a based-loaded jam in the sixth when he was already over 100 pitches, most of his final numbers - 6 innings, 3 earned runs, 7 hits, 2 walks - were comparably to Matt Harvey's in Game 1 - 6 innings, 3 earned runs, 5 hits, 2 walks.  Syndergaard struck out six to Harvey's two, had a lot more swings and misses, and of course threw that opening tone-setter, but it was the Met bats that made the most dramatic improvement from the first two games.

It's even debatable how much of a game-changer, much less a Series-changer, Syndergaard's first pitch was. The initial results were not good - by the second inning, Syndergaard had given up three runs and Jon Niese was warming up. One could have argued at that point that Syndergaard had angered the Royals. But then Syndergaard retired all nine batters he faced in the third, fourth and fifth on his way to twelve in a row. And while the performances of Harvey and Jacob deGrom in Game 2 raised speculation that the Mets' young pitchers were worn out from pitching deep into October, Syndergaard got his biggest out with the bases loaded in the sixth on his 104th pitch.

But debating on who was the biggest hero last night for the Mets is like arguing over which is the best doughnut at Dough. Both Thor and the Captain came through in a must-win situation. Curtis Granderson hit his second homer in three World Series games.

Along with moving Wright down in the order, I also wondered before the game if Michael Conforto should be benched and if Juan Uribe was really healthy enough to be on the roster. Then Conforto threw out Alex Gordon at third and drove in a run with an infield hit. And Uribe, in his first plate appearance in over a month, singled in a run and later scored. It was that kind of night.

After Game 2, the Mets looked dead. After Game 3, things look much better. The Mets have a rested Steven Matz going in Game 4 against Chris Young, who is pitching on three days rest after throwing over 50 pitches in relief in Game 1. And the Mets have that great Citi Field crowd behind them. Let's go Mets - and Matz!

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