Mets struggle with runners on base in opener
New York goes just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position in loss
KANSAS CITY -- High-scoring games in the postseason are not unheard of, but the two teams that are still playing this late into October are mainly here because their pitching and defense have kept them in games, and helped win them.
Good pitching often trumps good hitting, and because of that, there can be some downright ugly numbers on the offensive side. The Mets experienced a little of that in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday, when they were very much in the game through the full 14 innings, but had almost no success with runners in scoring position, and lost, 5-4.
In fact, the Mets were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and of their 11 hits, only one was for extra bases: Curtis Granderson's solo home run off Edinson Volquez in the fifth.
So which was it -- failure on the part of the Mets hitters, or just par for the course when playing the team known for its shutdown bullpen, arguably the best in the American League?
For the Mets, the latter made more sense.
"I'm sure you look back, there's a few things we could have done differently to have a better chance to win," said third baseman David Wright, whose Mets will try to improve with RISP in Game 2 here on Wedesday night (7:30 p.m. ET airtime on FOX, with game time at 8).
The struggles started early. The first scoring opportunity presented itself in the third inning, after Kelly Johnson was hit by a Volquez pitch and Granderson walked. But Wright struck out to end the inning, and he would do so again in the 11th with Juan Lagares and Granderson on base.
The Mets produced just three baserunners from innings 10-14, while facing two Royals relievers: Ryan Madson, who pitched the 10th, and Chris Young -- the projected Game 4 starter -- who finished the game with three shutout frames.
In fact, the closest the Mets came to scoring in extra innings was in the 11th, when Flores bunted Lagares to second.
"Their bullpen is excellent," Wright said. "They shut us down. Volquez made pitches when he had to make pitches. We expected this type of close game. We just had a couple things that just didn't go our way."
Losing the game was frustrating for the Mets, but not being able to push across a run against a pitching staff of the Royals' caliber was not something that took the visiting team totally off guard. It's the World Series. Pitchers can pitch. Hitters were, on both sides, at a disadvantage -- until the 14th, when the Royals finally broke through against Bartolo Colon. And even then, it took some help from the defense, in the form of an error by Wright.
"They're here because they have a good team and they have very, very good pitching," Mets manager Terry Collins said of the Royals. "Sometimes it's frustrating, but it works on both sides, too.
"They ended up winning the game, but I thought our guys did a good job of keeping out of trouble and they had a lot of opportunities and we held them down when we needed to until the end."
Had Jeurys Familia nailed down his fourth multi-inning save of the postseason instead of allowing a game-tying home run to Alex Gordon in the ninth, the narrative that followed the Mets postgame would have been different, and likely, they would have been lauded for the two leads they mounted and doing "just enough" to eke out a Game 1 win.
Instead, part of the focus is undoubtedly on those missed chances.
"It was a tough night," Flores said. "We've had a lot of those. Sometimes you have to give credit to the pitchers. That's what happened tonight. We were one pitch away. Tough loss."