The Mets lost last night in what felt like a grueling 14-round prize fight with each team suffering body blows before the Royals delivered the knock out punch against Bartolo Colon. Here are five things you should take away from Game 1:
1. The Royals bullpen was as good as advertised, allowing only one unearned run in eight innings of work topped off by Game 4 starter Chris Young who now has 15 strikeouts in 11.2 IP this postseason. I said yesterday the key for the Mets to win this series is to get to the Kansas City starting pitchers early before the battle of the pens. This isn’t to disregard the solid effort of the Mets bullpen that gave up only two runs in eight innings, spark-plugged by the birthday boy Jon Niese. I can’t be the only one that is still utterly shocked that Jeurys Familia gave up that home run, last thing I expected last night.
2. Both defenses made some key misplays last night and a few rally-squashing plays as well. Ultimately two big defensive miscues cost the Mets two runs last night while Eric Hosmers‘ play at first cost the Royals one. The Mets also got a couple of fine plays from Wilmer Flores at shortstop, an absolute gem by Curtis Granderson in right, and a great leaping grab by David Wright. I think the big difference in Game 1 was the defensive play of Mike Moustakas at third for the Royals, who stole two hits and limited the damage on another. New York was also able to take advantage of the shift on numerous occasions, hitting through it and being aggressive on the base paths against it.
3. Juan Lagares showed that he is ready to return to a key role on this team and should be in center field tonight to start the game. He had one of the best at-bats of the entire night against Royals setup man Kelvin Herrera and scored what would have been the winning run if not for Alex Gordon and his heroics. He stole a bag leading up to that run and had a bunt single as well later in the game. You have to wonder what would have happened on that deep fly by Alcides Escobar to the start the bottom of the first if Lagares was patrolling center field.
4. The Mets struggled with runners in scoring position last night going 1 for 10 leaving eleven runners on base. Two of those missed opportunities came on strikeouts from Michael Cuddyer who at this point has become completely useless and Terry Collins needs to stay away from him. Which brings up another curious decision by Collins to bunt Flores in front of Cuddyer, a move I will never understand.
5. For all the talk about the new additions to the Mets and the streak of Daniel Murphy where the heck would this team be without the play of Granderson. He had just one hit on the night but it was a huge one with a blast to right field giving the Mets a lead in the 5th inning. He also saved the game in the 11th inning with a spectacular catch against Jarrod Dyson that could have ended the game had it gotten past him. While everyone else on the team was chasing stuff all night he worked two of the teams three walks as well. How about that throw on the game-winner too? Obviously didn’t get him but that was possibly the best throw he has had in a Mets uniform.
That was a great game last night that unfortunately didn’t end the way we all hoped, the good news is we have our ace Jacob deGrom going tonight to even out the series.