Moose answers Mets with huge RBI, historic DP
NEW YORK -- Maybe this was Mike Moustakas' own secret plan.
Pull a grounder off Mets closer Jeurys Familia through that big gap on the right side of the infield in the eighth inning, past a diving Daniel Murphy to drive in the go-ahead run.
Then wait until the ninth inning, after inserting a little misadventure of your own, and make some history by turning the first line-drive double play to end a World Series game in 50 years and secure a 5-3 win.
Walk into the postgame interview room in camo and take the high road, show nothing but respect for the other team and call their starting pitchers "phenomenal" -- knowing full well you have the upper hand in the 111th World Series a day after leading a charge of dissent over a purpose pitch that started Game 3.
"It feels great, but we know we've got a tough team we've got to beat again," Moustakas said on Saturday night at Citi Field. "It's a great ballclub over there. We've got to come back to work tomorrow and find a way to beat these guys again. But it's nice being up 3-1."
Maybe it was fitting that after Noah Syndergaard's statement had been made at the very beginning of Game 3, Moustakas made his rebuttal at the very end of Game 4.
With one out and Wade Davis protecting a two-run Royals lead in the bottom of the ninth, the defense was in a shift for Murphy. Moustakas was effectively at shortstop, and Murphy hit a grounder just to his left, a routine 6-3 if it had been Alcides Escobar. Moustakas reached down and stumbled, able only to get a little leather on it. The Mets had the tying run at the plate as a result.
"Yeah, they moved me from shortstop to third base a long time ago," Moustakas deadpanned, "so it's probably a good thing. Murphy hit that ball and I didn't make the play."
Yoenis Cespedes followed with a clean single to right, and now the danger was real. That brought up slugger Lucas Duda, and the shift was back on. After a foul, Duda saw a 93-mph cutter that sawed off his bat, and the ball shot out softly toward Moustakas.
"At that point, we still have all the confidence in the world in Wade," Moustakas said. "So we're just trying to make a play for him and ended up getting a little fly-ball, line-drive kind of deal and caught it, and looked at first and just tried to make a good play, good throw to Hoz. And I was able to do that and we ended up winning the game."
Cespedes took off on contact and was halfway down the line when Moustakas nestled the ball in his glove, firing over to Hosmer for the easy double play. It was a clear baserunning blunder on the part of Cespedes, given that second base was occupied with Murphy rushing back to the bag.
"He got a freeze on a line drive a little bit," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He got off. I'm sure the first thought in his mind is, 'I'm going to score any ball that gets in the gap, I'm going to make sure he scores,' and he got too far off."
"It's huge, because Duda's a guy who can easily hit one out of the park in that situation," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "It's weird stuff going on because of the shift. You're a runner on first so you really can't tell where everyone's lined up, and it's just [Cespedes] trying to be aggressive right there. It's something that ended up costing him, but if that ball gets through it's a good chance he's on third and that's huge for his team."
It was the first line-drive double play to end a World Series game since Game 5 of the 1965 Fall Classic -- allowing Sandy Koufax to complete a four-hit shutout of Minnesota. Joe Nossek of the Twins lined to shortstop Maury Wills, who threw to second baseman Dick Tracewski, who stepped on the bag to double up Frank Quilici and end the game.
Meanwhile, Moustakas is now 6-for-17 (.353) with three RBIs in the Series. And the Royals are now one win away from their first championship since 1985, with a chance to clinch in Game 5 on Sunday night at Citi Field (game time 8 p.m. ET on FOX). Kansas City is the 81st team to jump ahead 3-1 in a best-of-seven postseason series, and of the previous 80 clubs, 68 (or 85 percent) went on to victory. In best-of-seven World Series, teams leading 3-1 have won 38 out of 43 times, or 88.4 percent.
"We're just trying to put the ball in play," he said. "Against a guy like Familia, that guy throws a bowling-ball sinker. And Hoz did a good job of putting the ball in play and make some things happen. It's just kind of how the ball bounced today. It kind of rolled right for us."