Players in the Postseason: #WinorGoHome #ItsBlackandWhite (Oct. 31)
Updated: Oct. 31
This player, whose favorite country singer is Rascall Flatts, has an older brother who plays shortstop in the Major Leagues. He owns a Fox Red Lab and likes watching Family Guy. While playing for New Hampshire, he hit multiple home runs to right field, so his agent sent him a T-shirt that said "oppo taco" with his face on it. It later became the team home run slogan. Who is he?
The setup pitch
The Royals lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1, with Game 4 at Citi Field Saturday at 8:07 pm ET on FOX.
Chris Young, who came in to get the victory in the Royals' wild, 5-4, 14-inning marathon win in Game 1, isn't concerned about starting for the Royals on three days' rest. He threw 53 pitches, striking out the side in the 12th inning.
"No, I came in (Thursday) and got my normal routine in and am just treating it as normal start," Young said. "Like I've said, I'm here to do whatever the team needs, whether that relieve or start. My body feels fine. I'm not worried about bouncing back."
Young, a 36-year-old veteran, has shown an ability to shift between starting and relief work during his career. He signed as a free agent with the Royals during Spring Training and was used primarily in a setup role early in the season. He moved into the rotation in mid-May and remained there until the end of July before being sent back to the bullpen after the Royals acquired Johnny Cueto at the Trade Deadline.
The childhood dream comes true
Mets Game 4 starter Steven Matz was spending the night with his parents and driving to Citi Field Saturday afternoon from his boyhood home in Stony Brook, Long Island, where he grew up living this moment over and over again.
"I think we all have," Matz said. "This is where you want to be in baseball. This is the dream. So, yeah, definitely have. This is what you write up in your backyard when you're playing Wiffle ball."
Matz, who began the season with Class A Port St. Lucie and was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in six regular-season starts after reaching the Majors in June, is starting for the third time in the playoffs. He allowed three runs in five innings in a Game 4 loss to the Dodgers in the NLDS, and then held the Cubs to one run over 4 2/3 innings in the clinching win in Game 4 of the NLCS.
Like many kids in the eastern part of the New York area, the Mets' rookie left-hander was a Mets fan.
"Man, my favorite player was always changing," he said. "I loved Johan [Santana]. I loved Mike Piazza. I remember Endy Chavez making that catch in 2006 and then the World Series, obviously, in 2000. The Subway Series was a lot of fun to watch."
Matz, a 24-year-old who made his debut with the Mets in late June, has been spending nights at his parents' home since returning from a lat injury in September..
"I just commute," he said. "We're on off hours, so there's not much traffic. It's not too terrible. It's been pretty awesome to be able to do that.''
The purpose pitch
Knowing his club was a game away from being in the untenable position of down 3-0 in the World Series and that the opposition's catalyst and leadoff hitter often attacks the first pitch of the game, Mets starter Noah Syndergaard arrived at Citi Field with a game-opening plan for Game 3 of the World Series, one the 23-year-old rookie hoped would halt the Royals' momentum.
"My first words I said to [catcher Travis d'Arnaud] when we walked in the clubhouse today was, 'How do you feel about high and tight for the first pitch and then a curveball for the second one?'" Syndergaard said. "So I feel like it really made a statement to start the game off that you guys can't dig in and get too aggressive because I'll come in there."
Syndegaard had indeed dusted Escobar with the first pitch, but the dust didn't settle quickly. Many of the Royals players took exception.
"My intent was to make them uncomfortable, and I feel like I did that," Syndegaard explained several hours later at the postgame media session. "I know that for every postseason game that Escobar has swung at first-pitch fastball, and I didn't think he would want to swing at that one."
And, yes, Escobar had struck out swinging, the first of six Royals Syndegaard struck out while battling through six innings in the Mets' 9-3 win. But the Royals, who had scored 12 runs on 21 hits in winning the first two games in Kansas City, came right back, scoring three runs on six hits in the first two innings.
Then the 6-foot-6 Syndergaard settled in. He sailed through the next three innings, retiring 12 consecutive Royals during one stretch, and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, his last inning.
The Royals expect that Edinson Volquez will be back from his father's funeral in the Dominican Republic in time to start Game 5.
"We should see Eddie (Saturday). He'll be ready to go," manager Ned Yost said, noting that Volquez had texted pitching coach Dave Eiland that "everything was good."
Volquez wasn't told his father, Daniel, had died on Tuesday until after pitching Game 1 for Kansas City later that night. He pitched six innings, and the Royals won, 5-4, in 14 innings. He left Kansas City for the Dominican Republic the next day.
He's 1-2 with a 4.37 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 13 walks in 22 1/3 innings.
The son of Mondesi
Raul A. Mondesi, the 20-year-old son of former Major League star Raul Mondesi, became the first player to make his debut in the World Series, striking out on four 95-mph-plus fastballs from Mets starter Noah Syndegaard as a pinch hitter to leadoff the fifth.
His dad, who never played a World Series game in a career that spanned 13 seasons, was watching from the Dominican Republic.
"I talked to him," the switch-hitting middle infielder told reporters afterward. "He said: 'Be ready, you got a chance to play tonight.' And I got it."
The results of the at-bat or of the game were not what Mondesi wanted, but he understood the moment.
"That is something big," Mondesi said. "I just want to thank God and the Royals for giving me a chance to play in the World Series."
The double statistic
Count Chris Young among those who place great significance on the "win" as a team statistic but who shrug it off as an individual statistic.
Young, the Royals' Game 4 starter, called his win in the wild World Series Game 1 a good example. He was one of six Royals relief pitchers who combined for eight innings. He considers it just circumstance that he was on the mound right before the Royals scored the game-winning run.
"There are a number of pitchers that deserved to win in that game, I just happened to get it," said Young, who struck out four and walked one over three scoreless innings. "Individual wins and losses are somewhat -- I don't know -- it's crazy for me to think that a pitcher gets an individual win and loss.
"When the Cleveland Cavaliers win a game, LeBron James doesn't get a win. It's the team. Baseball is the same way."
The celebrity reinforcement
Last year, Royals fan and Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet made a video with co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson ahead of Game 7 of the World Series. This World Series he brought in co-star Sofia Vergara to offer some encouragement.
The Trivia Answer
Travis d'Arnaud, New York Mets
Follow us @MLB_Players and to catch our postseason social media series, titled #WinOrGoHome #ItsBlackandWhite, featuring some up-close photos courtesy of Getty Sports.