Party like it's 1985, Kansas City.
The Kansas City Royals survived a 12-inning roller-coaster ride Sunday during Game 5 of the World Series against the New York Mets, emerging with a 7-2 victory to capture the franchise's first title in 30 years. The offense exploded for five runs in the top of the 12th and sent the Mets faithful streaming out of the Citi Field exits before closer Wade Davis officially shut the door on New York's season.
While the Mets ultimately lost by five, they actually held a 2-0 lead heading into the 9th inning, when manager Terry Collins elected to leave starter Matt Harvey in to go for the complete game. Instead, Harvey allowed a walk and a hit, and closer Jeurys Familia blew his third save of the World Series.
Eric Hosmer scored on Salvador Perez's groundout to tie the game at 2-2, although Lucas Duda had an opportunity to throw him out at home. MLB.com shared footage of the critical play:
The Royals won in extra innings, and pinch hitter Christian Colon drove in what proved to be the winning run in his first at-bat of the postseason. Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com made a cruel connection for Mets fans:
Anthony Castrovince @castrovince
Christian Colon was drafted 3 picks before Matt Harvey.2015-11-2 05:09:26
The Royals poured it on in the 12th after Colon's hit, and Lorenzo Cain put the game on ice with a three-run, bases-clearing double. SportsCenter highlighted the history of the moment for Kansas City:
The Royals are the first team to score 5 runs in an extra inning in World Series history. https://t.co/CUkpIUY9rH2015-11-2 05:23:06
The victors made a habit of crawling back from deficits in the Fall Classic, as Jon Morosi of Fox Sports 1 noted:
Jon Morosi @jonmorosi
Wow: If #Royals win tonight, they will be 1st team EVER with 3 or more wins in World Series after trailing in 8th or later. (h/t STATS LLC)2015-11-2 04:32:39
StatsCentre underscored why the Royals were able to come back so many times:
Per @EliasSports: #Royals 51 R in the 7th inning or later is the most in a single postseason and it's not even close (2nd- 2002 #Angels: 36)2015-11-2 06:17:03
It was easy to overlook the pitching performances following Kansas City's incredible rally. Even though his team lost, Harvey was brilliant, giving up just two earned runs in eight-plus innings. He was three outs away from forcing a Game 6 in Kansas City, and Katie Sharp of the Cauldron put his outing into perspective:
Katie Sharp @ktsharp
Matt Harvey: 1st pitcher w/ 9+ K in potential elimination World Series game since Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens both in 2001 Game 7.2015-11-2 03:00:23
On the other side, Edinson Volquez allowed two earned runs in six innings and kept his team within striking distance throughout the game after falling behind early. The entire Royals pitching staff carried the team and allowed only four hits in 12 innings.
Emma Span of Sports Illustrated did not overlook New York's offensive struggles against the Royals, even in the face of the decision to leave Harvey in and multiple defensive miscues down the stretch:
Emma Span @emmaspan
Yes, Harvey and Collins and Duda and Murphy. But also it is very, very hard to win a game on 3 hits in 12 innings.2015-11-2 05:14:44
Although the Mets struggled at the plate Sunday, they wasted no time seizing a lead in the elimination contest. Curtis Granderson drilled a home run on an 0-2 pitch in New York's first at-bat of the game to grab an early 1-0 lead. Granderson is now among some impressive company in World Series history, as Ace of MLB Stats highlighted:
Ryan M. Spaeder @theaceofspaeder
3 or more go-ahead HR in a single #WorldSeries 2015 Curtis Granderson 3 1972 Gene Tenace 4 1928 Lou Gehrig 3 1926 Babe Ruth 3 End of list.2015-11-2 01:40:59
It was more of the same for the Mets in the Fall Classic in leadoff situations, as ESPN Stats & Info pointed out:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Mets have hit the most leadoff HR in World Series history (4) Mets have allowed the most leadoff HR in World Series history (3)2015-11-2 01:51:02
The initial run proved to be critical, because both pitchers settled in throughout the middle stages of the game. Harvey allowed two hits in the first five innings and maintained the lead, while Volquez matched the Dark Knight pitch for pitch. In fact, Volquez didn't allow a single hit outside of Granderson's home run through those first five innings, and the Mets brought their 1-0 lead into the sixth.
Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star set the stage for Harvey in the critical frame:
Andy McCullough @McCulloughTimes
This is the proving ground for Harvey. Sixth inning, third time through the order, all that jazz.2015-11-2 02:48:13
Harvey proved his mettle and worked another scoreless inning, and Tim Rohan of the New York Times acknowledged the timing of the start likely had something to do with his performance:
Tim Rohan @TimRohan
Matt Harvey was excited to pitch on regular rest. He's made 2 playoff starts on reg. rest: the gem against the Cubs, and this start tonight2015-11-2 02:47:11
New York gave Harvey more run support in the bottom of the sixth, when Duda extended the lead to 2-0 with a sacrifice fly. It wasn't all good news for the Mets, because they loaded the bases with nobody out, but only managed to pick up the one run. What's more, Yoenis Cespedes hit a foul ball off his leg and left the game after popping out.
Scott Miller of Bleacher Report described the scene:
The Mets loaded the bases in the first place because of an error from Hosmer. Matt Ehalt of the Record suggested the Royals did not look like themselves in the field:
Matt Ehalt @MattEhalt
For all the talk of the Royals not beating themselves, another unearned run against them due to Hosmer.2015-11-2 03:16:39
Kansas City wasn't itself at the plate for most of the game, either, thanks largely to Harvey's dominance. The Mets ace worked another 1-2-3 inning in the eighth, and former pitcher and current ESPN analyst Curt Schilling believed Collins should have left Harvey in for one more frame:
Curt Schilling @gehrig38
I only take Harvey out if he dies before the 27th out2015-11-2 03:36:56
The only reason there was any discussion about the impending decision was the fact that Harvey had set the record for the most innings in a season after Tommy John surgery with 216 after pitching the eighth, per ESPN Stats & Info. Collins decided to leave Harvey in the game, and the crowd responded in kind, as John Harper of the New York Daily News noted:
John Harper @NYDNHarper
Crowd explodes as Harvey practically sprints to the mound. Chants for Harvey. This place couldn't be more electric.2015-11-2 03:51:41
While it was a memorable moment, Cain worked a walk, stole a base and scored off Hosmer's double to cut the lead to 2-1 in two batters. Collins replaced Harvey with Familia, leading Mike Puma of the New York Post to comment on the developments:
Mike Puma @NYPost_Mets
The fans got what they wanted ... I wonder how much TC paid attention to the fans wanting Harvey in for ninth.2015-11-2 03:58:35
Hosmer moved to third on a groundout from Mike Moustakas, which ultimately proved critical. Salvador Perez, the next batter, grounded out to third, but Hosmer broke for the plate on David Wright's throw to first. Duda had a chance to throw Hosmer out at home, but he threw it over Travis d'Arnaud's head and the Royals tied the game.
Sports Illustrated praised Hosmer's game-shifting play:
SI MLB @si_mlb
Wright looked Hosmer back, but he broke to the plate on the throw, and Duda's throw home was way off. What an incredible play by Hosmer.2015-11-2 04:05:22
Baseball Tonight highlighted Familia's infamous place in the sport's history, even though he deserved better Sunday:
Baseball Tonight @BBTN
Jeurys Familia becomes the 1st player in MLB history to blow 3 saves in the World Series. https://t.co/2BLc6l8tPX2015-11-2 04:06:26
The Mets did not score in the bottom of the ninth, and the game went to extra innings for the second time in the World Series. The two bullpens forced an 11th inning, making this the first World Series since 1991 to feature two games of 11 frames or more, per Sharp.
Neither team scored in the 11th, but Kansas City threatened in the 12th when Perez singled and Jarrod Dyson stole second as a pinch runner. Adam Rubin of ESPN.com pointed to a problem from the Mets' perspective:
Adam Rubin @AdamRubinMedia
Royals running at will on Travis d'Arnaud. Go-ahead run at second base.2015-11-2 04:59:22
The steal proved to be crucial because Dyson moved to third on Alex Gordon's groundout and scored on Colon's single. The fact that it was Colon's first at-bat of the postseason underscored how clutch the Royals performed throughout the playoffs. Bob Nightengale of USA Today described Kansas City's mettle:
Bob Nightengale @BNightengale
The #Royals go ahead, 3-2,and now could be 1st team in history to win 3 World Series games when trailing in 8th IP or later. Can't be killed2015-11-2 05:08:15
Things took a turn for the worse for the Mets after Colon's hit. Daniel Murphy committed a critical error, Alcides Escobar doubled and Cain broke the game open with a bases-clearing double. Just like that, it was 7-2 with only one out in the inning.
That was more than enough for the nearly unhittable Davis, who finished the game with a scoreless bottom of the 12th. Ryan Krasnoo of Sports Illustrated was in awe of Kansas City's season:
Ryan Krasnoo @RyanKras
This #Royals team might be the most complete baseball team I've ever seen. No superstars, but Nos. 1-9 are all dangerous2015-11-2 05:15:23
As Krasnoo alluded to, the Royals looked like the best team in baseball throughout the playoffs. It's hard to argue with the result.
It was time to party for the Royals the moment Davis recorded the last out. MLB passed along the final strike and subsequent celebration:
#WorldSeries champs. https://t.co/SY6Rnt1Lzz https://t.co/r0M4FvZvWW2015-11-2 05:58:12
The revelry didn’t stop on the field, as the Royals highlighted:
Kansas City Royals @Royals
A year in the making. #Crowned https://t.co/Ok0HTp4GE72015-11-2 06:01:10
MLB also named the World Series MVP following the contest:
.@SalvadorPerez15 wins #WorldSeries MVP, presented by @Chevrolet. https://t.co/K7FMU6kXc92015-11-2 06:02:08
The celebration was possible because Hosmer scored on the game-turning play in the ninth inning. Hosmer discussed his decision-making process, per Baseball Tonight:
Baseball Tonight @BBTN
"I just decided to go and be aggressive." - Eric Hosmer on his mad dash home to tie the game https://t.co/1beaWTfdNg2015-11-2 06:15:10
Manager Ned Yost talked about the one thing he would like to take back, because the World Series MVP wasn’t on the field for the final out, per Jon Tayler of Sports Illustrated: “I think if I had one regret this whole postseason, it was having to pinch run for Sal Perez in the 12th."
As for the Mets, the fans who stuck around to the end were appreciative of the incredible season and unlikely run to the World Series. Steve Gelbs of SportsNet New York captured a moving moment after the game:
Steve Gelbs @SteveGelbs
#Mets came back on the field to salute remaining fans behind dugout. Chants of "Let's Go Mets" & "Thank You Mets." https://t.co/Ph0ThliVKX2015-11-2 06:06:29
Kevin Kernan of the New York Post did the same:
Kevin Kernan @WheresKernan
Terry saluting the fans at 1:02 am https://t.co/V95MeNUYlY2015-11-2 06:21:42
Even though the Mets greeted their fans, there was still an air of disappointment in the locker room. Collins discussed his decision to leave Harvey in at the start of the ninth inning, per Phil Taylor of Sports Illustrated: "I let my heart get in the way of my gut."
Harvey also talked about it and said “unfortunately I couldn’t finish what I started,” per Ehalt.
Even with the Harvey decision, the Mets would have won if Duda threw Hosmer out at the plate. Collins realized that, per Rohan: “Good throw, he’s out.”
The Mets and their fans will remember those critical moments throughout the long winter.