By Anthony DiComo and Jeffrey Flanagan
NEW YORK -- The largest Mets crowd in Citi Field history, 44,781, was already frothing, enthused by a pregame procession of Billy Joel, Mike Piazza and all the pomp and circumstance this postseason-starved borough could muster. The Mets may have been trailing at the dawn of Game 3 of the World Series, but they weren't dead. All they needed on Friday night was a spark.
Noah Syndergaard provided it with a high-and-tight fastball that knocked Royals leadoff man Alcides Escobar to the ground, and over the next 3 1/2 hours, the tone of the World Series transformed. Charged by David Wright's homer and four RBIs, the Mets rolled to a 9-3 win that sliced the Royals' lead in the best-of-seven Fall Classic to 2-1. And Syndergaard, in teammate Michael Cuddyer's words, was the one who "woke everyone up."
"Incredible … incredible," was how Wright described the atmosphere at Citi. "We knew what to expect coming into this based on playing here throughout the postseason, but this was at a different level. To be able to fight back the way that we did, we were relentless tonight. And it seemed like every time they had an answer, we had an answer right back. That's the type of baseball that got us here."
Twenty-nine teams have won Game 3 after losing the first two, and 11 of them went on to win the World Series, giving the Mets plenty of hope heading into Game 4 here on Saturday, Halloween night (7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX, 8 p.m. game time).
Syndergaard outperformed Ventura, but not without resistance. The rookie appeared shaky after what he admitted was a game-opening purpose pitch to Escobar. Six of the seven hits he allowed came during the first and second innings, with Eric Hosmer and Alex Rios driving in runs, but Syndergaard found his stride in the third, reeling off a run of 12 consecutive outs before getting in and out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth.
"I was able to stay locked in for the entire game," Syndergaard said.
The Mets iced the game with a four-run sixth inning against Kansas City relievers Franklin Morales and Kelvin Herrera, with Wright's two-run single capping the rally. The Royals then spent their postgame hours vowing the only type of revenge that matters.
"We have to forget about this," Escobar said. "The plan in here is to win."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Double trouble: Wright's first career World Series homer sent Citi Field into hysterics in the first inning, putting New York ahead, 2-1. Though that lead didn't last, Granderson followed with his own two-run shot in the third to give the Mets a 4-3 lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"I was trying to tell myself just nice and easy, because he supplies the power," Wright said of the hard-throwing Ventura. "You throw upper 90s, you've just got to try to meet it. I was trying to get my foot down early, get the barrel to the ball, and as you can see, put a good swing on it."
Sixth inning seals it: In his first plate appearance since Sept. 25, Juan Uribe gave New York a three-run lead with a pinch-hit RBI single in the sixth. Two batters later, Wright brought a record Citi Field crowd to its feet with a two-run single off Herrera that made it 9-3.
"Big contribution from him," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Uribe. "He's such a good guy to have on your club and be in the clubhouse, it's nice that he had a chance to contribute."
Noah's escape: For a brief moment in the sixth inning, Syndergaard's control abandoned him. A single and two walks loaded the bases, giving Collins a decision with his starter at 102 pitches. He stuck with Syndergaard, who induced an inning-ending groundout by Rios with his 104th and final pitch of the night.
"It brings me joy that he decided to leave me in there, and has that much confidence in me to get that final out," Syndergaard said. "It was a huge situation."
Yost sticks with Rios: Collins wasn't the only manager who had a decision to make in the top of the sixth. Rios came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs, the Royals trailing, 5-3. Yost had DH Kendrys Morales available to pinch-hit, but opted to stick with Rios.
Rios already had two solid at bats off Syndergaard, a line-drive RBI single in the second and a hard groundout to short in the fourth. Yost had not pinch-hit for Rios this postseason, and he did not in this situation, either, despite a potential platoon advantage in Morales. Rios grounded out to short to end the inning. Morales would pinch-hit in the ninth against Jeurys Familia, grounding out to Wright to end the game.
Gordon out at third: Kansas City bounced back from a 2-1 deficit to take a 3-2 lead in the second off Syndergaard. But the Royals' shot at a knockout inning took a blow when left fielder Michael Conforto threw out Alex Gordon trying to go from first to third on a Rios single.
With Salvador Perez on second and Gordon on first with no outs, Rios ripped a single down the left-field line. Perez scored easily, but Conforto got to the ball quickly and fired to Wright, who applied a snap tag on Gordon's helmet. Gordon originally was called safe, but the Mets challenged and the call was overturned. Rios later scored on a wild pitch, but that was all that Kansas City mustered.
"I was just trying to be aggressive there," Gordon said. "I thought it was close."
Added Rios, "It's a big play, but that's what we try to do, to be aggressive and get the extra base."
Morales meltdown: It was a 5-3 game when Franklin Morales took over on the mound in the sixth. He faced five batters and four of them reached -- on two singles, a hit by pitch and the bizarre play of the night.
Granderson hit a one-hopper back to the mound with runners on the corners and one out. Morales seemingly had a sure double play, but he instead looked the the runner back to third. Then Morales looked briefly to second, then to first, then back to second. He ultimately made an off-balance throw to second and everyone was safe. Morales was taken out, but he wound up being charged with four runs as the Mets put away the game.
"That was a key play," Yost said of the comebacker to Escobar. "That was a big out that we needed to get at that point."
"I don't know if he tried to do it on purpose. But these guys said yesterday, 'We have a plan.' That's why I think it was on purpose. You talk to the media, the fans, and then the first thing you throw is at my head. What am I going to think?" -- Escobar, on the game's first pitch
"I certainly wasn't trying to hit the guy, that's for sure. I just didn't want him getting too comfortable. If they have a problem with me throwing inside, then they can meet me 60 feet, six inches away. I've got no problem with that." -- Syndergaard's response
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Wright's four RBIs were the second-most by a Mets player in a World Series game, trailing only Rusty Staub's five in Game 4 in 1973. More >
The Royals' Raul Mondesi -- ranked as the No. 33 prospect in baseball -- became the first player in the modern World Series, which began in 1903 as a contest of the National League and the American League, to make his Major League debut in the Fall Classic, striking out vs. Syndergaard as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Royals:Chris Young will take the mound for Kansas City in Game 4 on Saturday. The right-hander pitched three scoreless innings in relief in Game 1 and got the victory. Young will be making his second start of this postseason -- he went 4 2/3 innings in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series against the Blue Jays and gave up just two runs in a 14-2 win.
Mets: Long Island native Steven Matz will make his ninth career Major League start on Saturday. He did not make it out of the fifth inning in his last outing, Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, but he held the Cubs to just one run in a win that sent the Mets to the World Series.