Noah Syndergaard said he would “have a few tricks up my sleeve” to combat Alcides Escobar’s propensity to lead off the game with by swinging at the first pitch.
One of those tricks, apparently, was to get Escobar out of the batter’s box. Syndergaard’s 98 mph fastball for the first pitch of World Series Game 4 on Friday night sailed toward Escobar’s head for ball one and he hit the dirt to get out of the way.
Escobar then took a curveball for a strike, fouled off another one and fouled off a 99 mph fastball into the mit of Travis d’Arnaud for a strikeout. Entering Friday, Escobar was 11 for 22 when leading off an inning in the playoffs.
The Royals still scored a run in the first without Escobar’s help. Ben Zobrist doubled, took third on Lorenzo Cain’s single and scored when Eric Hosmer grounded into a fielder’s choice.