Game 1 between the Mets and Royals began in unusual fashion: In the bottom of the first, on Matt Harvey’s first pitch of the night, Alcides Escobar hit the first lead-off, inside-the-park home run in a World Series game in 112 years. That turned out to be just the first of many wild moments in the epic opening game of the 2015 Fall Classic — one full of twists and turns and dramatic home runs and broadcast fails. But in the 14th inning, after more than five hours, Eric Hosmer finally ended Game 1 with a sacrifice fly that gave the Royals a 5-4 victory.
Harvey’s night couldn’t have started much worse. The Mets never trailed in the NLCS, but Escobar’s homer (which probably should have been scored a four-base error on Yoenis Céspedes) gave the Royals a 1-0 lead after just one New York pitch in the World Series. It was the first time since the very first World Series in 1903 that a batter hit a lead-off, inside-the-park homer in the Fall Classic, and the first time someone hit a first-pitch lead-off homer of any kind in the World Series since Derek Jeter did it against the Mets in 2000.
But the Mets would get that run back and then some, scoring one run in each of the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. Meanwhile, Harvey settled down for a while after the first. At one point he retired 11 batters in a row — right up until Ben Zobrist led off the sixth with a double. That inning would be trouble for the Mets’ ace: The Royals would score twice to tie the game at three. Harvey’s final line: three runs on five hits with two strikeouts and two walks in six innings.
The game would remain 3-3 into the eighth. After Juan Lagares’s two-out single capped a nine-pitch at bat, he stole second and then scored on an error by first baseman Hosmer, the two-time defending Gold Glove winner. For a brief time, it looked like the Mets had the spirit of ’86 on their side.
But in the ninth, with the Mets just two outs away from winning Game 1 of a World Series for the first time, Alex Gordon hit a solo homer off Jeurys Familia to tie the score at four. Familia, who’d been lights-out in the postseason to that point, hadn’t blown a save since July 30.
Then came a parade of relievers in extra innings: Wade Davis threw a scoreless frame, Jonathon Niese threw two, and Ryan Madson threw one. Eventually, fans were treated to a match-up of the very tall Chris Young and the very round Bartolo Colón. But while Young, the scheduled Game 4 starter, threw three innings of no-hit balls for Kansas City, Colón blinked in his third inning of work. After an error by David Wright, Colón allowed a single to put runners on the corners, and after an intentional walk, Hosmer’s sac fly ended the game.
The Mets had their chances: They left 11 runners on base in Game 1, and were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. (Then again, the same could be said for Kansas City, who stranded 13 and went 2-for-11 with men in scoring position.)
As if the game itself wasn’t bizarre enough, at one point, the Fox broadcast was knocked off the air when their truck lost power, and when the game resumed after a brief delay, replay reviews weren’t available for a time. (U.S. viewers missed one at-bat; eventually, they were shown the English-language international feed until the Fox-produced broadcast could resume.)
And then there was the tragic subplot involving Royals starting pitcher Edinson Volquez. News broke Tuesday evening that Volquez’s father had died earlier in the day in the Dominican Republic. But as the game went on, there were conflicting reports about whether he’d been told the news before his start. If he hadn’t, it would mean that as word of the news spread online, many people watching him pitch would have known his father died before he did. Later on, we learned that according to the Royals, his wife requested that the team not tell him before such an important start, and the team asked Fox not to mention it on the broadcast, since Volquez routinely goes into the clubhouse between innings, where he might hear a TV showing the game. According to the Times, after Volquez left the game following the sixth inning, he was informed of the news. (Fox then reported the news on the broadcast in the eighth inning.)
Game 1 was the longest World Series opener in history, but the teams (and their groggy fans) don’t have much time to dwell on it: Game 2 is set for Wednesday night, with the first pitch scheduled for a little after 8 p.m.