Royals will bounce back from bad bounce
NEW YORK -- This was a performance so unlike the Royals that the Royals -- and their fans -- shouldn't even worry about it. The Kansas City side of Game 3 of the 2015 World Series was completely forgettable. And if the Royals prevail in this Series, it will be rather easily forgotten.
The way it failed to work for the Royals on Friday night resulted in a 9-3 loss to the New York Mets.
It wasn't good. It wasn't pretty. But it was also just one game. Kansas City still leads the Series, 2-1. This is not a situation fraught with peril. It is merely a situation into which one crummy game came creeping.
Where did the Royals go wrong? This may be the most fundamentally sound defensive team in the Major Leagues -- but not in Game 3.
Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura gave up two home runs, the kind of unfortunate occurrence that can be forgiven. But his negligence in not covering first base on a ball hit to the right side was not necessarily forgivable.
"Yeah, at that point in that game, you could tell he was starting to get a little flustered," said manager Ned Yost. "Started losing his focus and concentration at that point. That's why we [replaced him with Danny Duffy]."
With runners on first and third and one out in the sixth, reliever Franklin Morales got a ground ball back to the mound. This is generally a fine thing for the team in the field in that sort of situation, except it wasn't, the way Morales handled it. Morales looked at second, looked back at the plate, and finally made a throw to second that was both tardy and wide.
"I heard, 'Home!'" Morales said. Asked whose voice he heard, Morales responded: "I heard, 'Home!'"
"His instincts were right; he was going to turn around and fire to second," Yost said. "And again, I haven't talked to [catcher Salvador Perez], but Franklin said he heard Salvy say, 'Home.' So he stopped and turned, and it was a mess from that point."
The next sound you heard was the roof falling on the Royals in a four-run sixth that saw the other rare Royals moment, a bullpen letdown. You have seen Kansas City's relief corps lock down game after game over the past two postseasons. This time, the bullpen opened the door to defeat.
Morales allowed four runs in one-third of an inning. The often overpowering Kelvin Herrera could not stop the bleeding in the four-run sixth.
So when two of the fundamental strengths -- defense and the bullpen -- are not functioning properly, the Royals aren't the Royals.
But the record will clearly show that what the Royals are is resilient. Bad bounces have only given them reasons to bounce back.
"That's one thing we do well as a team," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "We can flush out a big win, and we can flush out a big loss. That's all we've got to do here. There's nothing new. We've got to come back [on Saturday night] and find a way to win.
"We're going to try to bounce back, win a game and put us right back in the driver's seat."
The Royals are in the World Series for the second straight year. They don't require any additional motivation. But they believe that they found some, anyway.
It has become almost a ritual for shortstop Alcides Escobar to swing at the first pitch to lead off a game. He has done this with considerable success late in the season and in the postseason.
But Mets starter Noah Syndergaard removed that possibility by flattening Escobar with a first pitch that was high and tight. The Royals didn't like the proximity of the pitch to Escobar's head.
"[Syndergaard] said he came up with a 'master plan,' and I guess it was to throw at Esky's head," Hosmer said. "He said he had a 'master plan,' a way to deal with the aggression. Throwing at a guy's head is not the way to go about it."
You haven't heard the last of that discussion. But the Royals legitimately believe that you have seen the last of them playing like a team other than the Royals.