Judging the Royals

How an Eric Hosmer ground ball turned World Series Game 4 around

Before Game 3 of the 2015 World Series began, someone in the Royals organization told me that if the Kansas City hitters could keep the ball on the ground, the Mets infield might betray the Mets pitchers.

Hit the ball in the air and one guy has to do one thing to get an out: catch the ball. Hit the ball on the ground and most of the time two guys have to do three things to get an out: catch the ball, throw the ball and catch the ball again.

Groundballs put more pressure on a defense than fly balls.

In the eighth inning of Game 4 with one down and runners on first and second base, Eric Hosmer hit a groundball to Mets second baseman, Daniel Murphy. Like the Royals guy predicted, the Mets infield let a Mets pitcher down.

The ball got through Murphy and the runner on second base — Ben Zobrist — scored to tie the game. That opened the inning up and two singles later, the Royals had a 5-3 lead. And because Wade Davis pitches for Kansas City, it was a lead the Royals would not give back.

The Kansas City Royals are now one win away from being World Series champs.

The Royals fail to make some routine plays

Saturday night Citi Field turned into a Halloween House of Horrors for the Kansas City Royals. (Don’t worry; I’m done with that metaphor.) But there were some weird things happening this Halloween weekend.

1.) On Friday night Yordano Ventura forgot to cover first base.

2.) Franklin Morales couldn’t make a simple throw to second base.

3.) Saturday night the Royals lost a base runner when Ben Zobrist stepped across home plate while Alcides Escobar was busy stealing second. Zobrist interfered with catcher Travis d’Arnaud’s throw and that turned into a double play; Ben struck out and Alcides was called out on batter’s interference.

4.) After catching a fly ball, Alex Rios forgot the number of outs with a runner on third base. There’s some doubt as to whether Rios could have thrown the runner out if had known the right number of outs, but it would have been nice to find out.

5.) I don’t know if Danny Duffy could have beat Curtis Granderson to the bag even with a good jump, but once again Eric Hosmer fielded a grounder, looked up and had no pitcher on first base to throw to.

I’ve talked to several people who should know and they believe the Royals are a better team than the Mets. But the Royals will make it a lot easier on themselves if they make routine plays and pay attention to fundamentals.

Game notes

· If you were wondering why Lorenzo Cain didn’t steal third base in the top of the sixth inning: Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores was holding Cain close to the bag and the two guys who came to the plate—Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas—were left handed. That would give the Mets catcher an open throwing lane to third base. Without a good lead and jump—which Flores was preventing—Cain had to stay put.

· After Michael Conforto’s home run, Wilmer Flores singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and was sacrificed over to third base. Ned Yost brought the Royals infield in which tells you Ned thought it was going to be a fairly low-scoring game; he didn’t want his team to be down by two runs. If you think it’s going to be a high-scoring game you leave the infield back and figure you’ll get that second run back later.

· Ask around — and I did — and you get different opinions as to whether Yordano Ventura should have thrown up and in on Curtis Granderson after Noah Syndergaard flipped Alcides Escobar. Some people thought yes — you flip our guy, we flip yours — some people thought Ventura is the wrong guy to do it. Yordano’s emotional enough and you don’t want him getting off track by starting another on-field scuffle.

· Another point of view: If Ventura had flipped Granderson, the umpires probably would have issued warnings and that would have been the end of it.

· After Friday’s game I said David Wright’s home run to left center might not have been out of Kauffman Stadium. Greg Holland thought I was wrong, but did think Curtis Granderson’s home run to right would have been a double at the K.

· As Blair Kerkhoff reminded me; the Mets saw Chris Young in Game 1 when he threw three innings in relief. Only two Mets in Saturday’s lineup did not see Young; Michael Conforto and Steven Matz. Didn’t seem to matter to Conforto; he homered on the first pitch he saw.

· As he proved in the sixth inning, Salvador Perez is the Will Rogers of hitting; he never met a pitch he didn't like.

· Alex Gordon lined out in the seventh, so did Alex Rios. Eric Hosmer lined out in the sixth, Rios just missed a home run when he hit the ball to the centerfield warning track. If you’re a Royals fan; ever notice when the Mets hit the ball right at someone it’s good defensive positioning by Kansas City, but when the Royals hit the ball at someone it’s bad luck?

· When I was asking whether the Royals should retaliate against the Mets for throwing at Alcides Escobar, the best comment I heard was this: the best response would be winning the World Series. Sunday night the Royals have a decent chance of doing just that.