NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, October 31, 2015, 1:10 AM
Noah Syndergaard comes in high and tight with the first pitch of the game, letting the Royals know he won’t let them get comfortable.
The first pitch of the game, at 97 mph, sailed right over Alcides Escobar’s head, and, yes indeed, it was Noah Syndergaard’s way of saying:
“I don’t care if you handled Harvey and deGrom. Try this on for size.”
You figured that, after Syndergaard pitched the Mets to a 9-3 victory in Game 3 of this World Series, he’d downplay that first pitch as simply being a bit overamped. But, nope, he said he had every intention of sending a message that this game would be different from the first two.
In fact, as Syndergaard told it, he walked into the clubhouse, called Travis d’Arnaud over and said ‘how do you feel about high-and-tight for the first pitch, and a curve ball for the second, to make a statement?’
The pitch to Escobar prompted the Royals to scream at him from the dugout, trying to rattle him _ to no avail, as it turned out. And when Syndergaard was told afterward that several Royals’ players were questioning his intent on the pitch, he didn’t flinch.
“My intent was to make them uncomfortable,” he said. “And I felt like I did just that. I think Escobar has swung at the first pitch in every playoff game. I didn’t think he’d want to swing at that one.”
In other words: too damn bad if the Royals didn’t like it.
This could get interesting if KC decides to play that game as well, though it’s hard to imagine Chris Young, their Game 4 starter whose fastball usually tops out well under 90 mph, would be the guy to respond.
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And besides, much as the case after Chase Utley broke Ruben Tejada’s leg with that dirty slide in the NLDS, the stakes are too high in this World Series for either team to get wrapped up in extracurricular activities.
In fact, with the win the Mets have made it a series now, with lefty Steven Matz on the mound on Saturday night with the chance to even the Series at 2-2.
Still, who knew Syndergaard, the 23-year old rookie, would inject so much of his own testosterone into the Series?
Suffice it to say he’s come a long way from the kid who naively sat down to eat in the clubhouse during an intrasquad game in Port St. Lucie, only to be lectured by David Wright and have his lunch thrown in the trash by Bobby Parnell.
For that matter, Matt Harvey probably won’t be giving him grief for talking to the press in the clubhouse anymore, the way he did during Syndergaard’s first couple of months in the big leagues.
Yes, the 6-foot-6 righthander has more than earned his stripes in the big-boy club by now. Saturday night he gave the Mets hope in this World Series, shutting down the Royals after the early deficit while the offense finally awakened to the delight of a raucous Citi Field crowd.
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Royals leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar sits in the batter’s box after being brushed back, enraging the rest of the Kansas City bench.
The Mets say they aren’t surprised. As David Wright said before this World Series started, “Not that there was any doubt, but we found out just how tough Noah is mentally when he came out of the bullpen for that inning in Game 5 in LA. He’s grown up right in front of our eyes this year.”
And as it turned out, his message pitch served its initial purpose, as he went on to strike out Escobar. And soon enough he was hitting 100 mph on the radar gun, and in the first inning the Royals swung and missed five times, or twice more than they did against Jacob deGrom in all of Game 2.
Still, also found himself behind 3-2 after two innings because the Royals really do dig deep and put the bat on the ball against the best pitchers in baseball.
He was a little unlucky, as the KC hitters fought off some tough pitches and got the benefit of a tight strike zone early. Nevertheless, when the Royals managed to string together four singles in the second inning, Terry Collins was concerned enough that he got Jon Niese up in the bullpen.
Just in case Syndergaard wilted on him.
Instead he allowed only one more hit, and in racking up six strikeouts during his six innings, he put a dent in the mystique that was building around the Royals.
That is, perhaps they’re not the hardest team in the history of baseball to strike out, after all.
Syndergaard also sends a message by striking out six batters over six innings to get the Mets their first win of the World Series.
And after all the talk about Harvey and deGrom giving in to the scouting reports and not pitching to their strengths, perhaps they just didn’t pitch well enough to win. Collins talked about that early on Friday, saying a review of the Game 2 tape showed that deGrom “made a lot of mistakes in that (four-run) fifth inning.”
Maybe it was really that simple. Still, someone had to step forward and prove the Royals could be pitched to.
Turned out Syndergaard was more than willing. With one pitch and then six gutsy innings he essentially said: Game On.
BY Bill Price
October 30, 1:42PM
Ever since the Mets went quietly (that’s an understatement) Wednesday night in Kansas City, the big storyline has been this: the 1986 Mets are one of the few teams to come back from an 0-2 hole to win the World Series. It’s something to hang our…