So it ends, here in Queens, where the Royals, on their first visit to Citi Field, fell short in their bid for 10 in a row Friday night in a tough 4-2 loss to the New York Mets in 11 innings.
The Royals forced extra innings by scoring single runs in the eighth and ninth before seeing their longest winning streak in 10 years end on Eric Young’s walk-off homer against Luis Mendoza.
“Home run,” Mendoza said. “That’s all.”
Mendoza walked away from his locker at that point but, really, there wasn’t much more to say.
Omar Quintanilla started the winning rally with a one-out walk. Mendoza, 2-6, retired Justin Turner on a pop to short before falling into a 3-1 hole on Young.
Mendoza came in with a 90-mph fastball, and Young sent a no-doubt drive over the right-field wall. Carlos Torres, 3-2, got the victory after working two scoreless innings. He had been scheduled to start Saturday’s game.
The Royals’ nine-game winning streak was their longest since opening the 2003 season on a similar run. The last time they won more than nine in row was a 14-game surge just prior to the 1994 strike.
(That’s right, the last time the Royals won more than nine in a row, within a week, baseball simply came to a halt. So perhaps this loss can be classified as being in the best interests of the game.)
“It was a good run,” left fielder Alex Gordon said. “We had a chance to make it 10 tonight. We had a lot of opportunities. Our offense was just kind of sluggish tonight. Now, we’ve just got to start a new streak.”
Both teams wasted chances.
The Royals left 10 runners and were hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position. The Mets also stranded 10 and were one for nine with runners in scoring position.
“We had opportunities, especially late, to get Holly (closer Greg Holland) in the game,” manager Ned Yost said. “We just couldn’t do it.”
The 4-hour, 7-minute game depleted both bullpens, which is why the Royals turned to Mendoza, their long reliever, to start the 10th inning of a 2-2 game. Even then, they were lucky to get to the 11th.
“He was the last guy I had,” Yost said. “Tim Collins, (on Thursday) after the game received a call that his grandfather was gravely ill.
“He jumped in a car this morning and drove to see him one more time. He’ll be back (Saturday).”
Luke Hochevar was unavailable after throwing 26 pitches in Thursday’s 7-2 victory at Minnesota.
That left Mendoza, who started the 10th by yielding an infield single to David Wright, who left the game after hobbling past first base, The Mets inserted pitcher Zack Wheeler as a pinch-runner.
Marlon Byrd fouled off two full-count pitches before drawing a walk. Daniel Murphy’s grounder to second resulted in a force at second that put runners at first and third with one out.
Mendoza escaped by getting ex-Royal John Buck to ground into a double play. Shortstop Alcides Escobar made a nice pick-up on a short hop to start the game-saver.
The Mets also blew an opportunity in the ninth inning after Ike Davis led off against Aaron Crow by pulling a double to right field. After Andrew Brown replaced Davis, Quintanilla put down a successful sacrifice.
The Royals shortened the infield when the Mets sent up Turner to bat for reliever Pedro Feliciano, who had stranded runners at first and third in the top of the ninth.
Turner struck out on three pitches, which permitted the Royals to reposition their infield to normal depth. Young was walked intentionally and moved to second on defensive indifference.
After Crow missed on a borderline 1-2 pitch, Juan Lagares just got a piece of the ball on two fouls before grounding out to second. The game went to the 10th.
New York starter Dillon Gee carried a 2-0 lead into the eighth inning but exited after a leadoff walk to Lorenzo Cain, a late double-switch replacement. In came lefty Scott Rice, whose first pitch hit Gordon.
So the Royals had runners at first and second with no outs.
Eric Hosmer hit a hopper back to the mound, but the Mets settled for just a force at second as Cain moved to third.
The Mets then replaced Rice with veteran LaTroy Hawkins for a right-on-right matchup against Salvy Perez — and Hawkins got a first-pitch grounder to third.
It was a potential inning-ending double play but, again, the Mets only managed a force at second. Cain scored, and the Royals were back to within 2-1. But that was it.
Mike Moustakas ended the inning with a grounder to first, although Davis bobbled the ball, and Hawkins tumbled over first after taking the throw.
The Mets were without closer Bobby Parnell, who is battling a stiff neck. and is unlikely to pitch this weekend.
The Royals took advantage.
Miguel Tejada led off with a double into the left-center gap against David Aardsma, who then walked Escobar. That prompted the Royals to pull back pinch-hitter Billy Butler from the on-deck circle.
Elliot Johnson remained in the game and put down a perfect sacrifice, which moved the runners to second and third with one out. Then, the Royals called on Butler to bat for Jarrod Dyson.
The Mets countered with an intentional walk that loaded the bases, which got the game to Cain — who tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center. Escobar moved to third on the play.
Feliciano ended the inning by retiring Gordon on a grounder to first.
That run meant both starters, Gee and Wade Davis, got no-decisions. Gee certainly deserved better. He carried a shutout into the eighth and permitted just one run in seven-plus innings.
Davis gave up a two-run homer in the first inning to Wright but nothing more in five innings. Kelvin Herrera, Louis Coleman and Crow combined for four scoreless innings.