Despite Gm 3 loss, KC fans not discouraged
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- They arrived in all types of Royals apparel, including a shirt that read "Party Like It's 1985."
In the early going of Game 3 Friday night, before their team took a 9-3 loss, fans who gathered in force at Tanner's on 119th Street indeed had the exhilarating feeling that the Royals were going to put a 3-0 stranglehold on the Mets and set themselves up perfectly for the franchise's first World Series title since '85. The patrons roared when Ben Zobrist delivered a booming one-out double in the first. They chanted "Let's Go Royals" with gusto as Kansas City's persistent hitters continued their postseason theme by recording six hits in the opening two innings, boosting the Royals to a one-run lead against Noah Syndergaard.
The festive atmosphere was a familiar one for Jason Perez of Olathe, Kan., who was at Tanner's when the Royals clinched the American League Division Series against Houston and the AL Championship Series against Toronto.
"When you are at the stadium, the "Let's Go Royals" chant breaks out quickly," Perez said. "It comes out just as quickly here. People are so into it. It's almost like being at the game."
But the good times didn't roll for long on Friday. Even after the Royals scored twice in the second, there was some trepidation in the packed house. An overturned call at third left Alex Gordon jogging back to the dugout and thwarted what had all the makings of a big inning.
"How can you overturn that? It's not enough evidence," one fan yelled angrily.
After Curtis Granderson's two-run homer off Yordano Ventura put the Mets on top for good in the third, the crowd didn't really get loud again until the sixth, when the Royals loaded the bases with two outs against Syndergaard. But Alex Rios bounced out, to a collective sigh, and the Mets kept tacking on runs to get the crowd thinking about Game 4 on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX, game time 8 p.m.) with the Royals still holding a 2-1 Series lead.
"It's been a wild ride," Perez said. "You think back to the Houston series. Four runs down, with two innings to go in an elimination game? I was at work and thinking, 'This might be it.' But I had been at the Wild Card Game against Oakland the previous year when we came back late from four runs down. So you don't give up hope. It's not realistic to think a team can come back like that in the playoffs, but this team has almost conditioned us to expect it."
Fans would love a repeat of the Toronto series, in which Kansas City won the first two at home, dropped Game 3 on the road and then came back to blow out the Blue Jays in Game 4.
The Tanner's patrons went home disappointed on Friday, but not discouraged.
"We're absolutely still in great shape," said Craig Ward of Overland Park. "We'll take Game 4."
Although the Kansas City offense bogged down after the second inning, Perez expects the Royals to provide adequate support for the pitching staff the remainder of the World Series.
"The first few games of the Houston series, it seemed like we were trying to out-homer them," Perez said. "But then we went back to playing Royals baseball. Lots of singles, keep the line moving. I think we'll continue to do that."
The seats at Tanner's were filled well before first pitch, and Perez expects it to be standing-room-only again on Saturday at the place where he and his buddies most like to watch Royals baseball.
"I'll be back for Game 4," Perez said. "The cool thing about it is, everybody is on the same side. Around Kansas City, we all love our college teams, too. I'm a big Kansas fan. But there are divided loyalties around here with Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri. That's what makes it great with the Royals. All my Missouri friends are Royals fans, and all my Kansas State friends are Royals fans. We're all for one in getting behind the Royals. After they got out of the Toronto series, everybody just feels like this Royals team is on a mission to win a World Series."