NEW YORK — David Wright rounded first base, watched Curtis Granderson slide safely into second base, and clapped his hands. The New York Mets captain, who had battled injuries and endured eight consecutive seasons without a postseason appearance, had just broken open Game 3 of the World Series.
Wright saved his signature playoff performance, a four-RBI game, for Friday night’s record crowd at Citi Field, where the Mets kept their championship hopes alive with a 9-3 win over the Kansas City Royals.
This was a game Wright and the Mets desperately needed, to keep the back-to-back American League champions from taking a three games-to-none stranglehold on the series. Instead, after their 12-hit outburst, the Mets enter Game 4 with a chance to even the Fall Classic. They will send to the mound on Saturday night the talented but inexperienced Steven Matz, a lifelong Mets fan who will commute from his parents’ house on Long Island. The Royals will counter with journeyman Chris Young, an ex-Met.
Wright's four RBIs were one more than he had over the team’s first 11 games of the postseason. He launched a 96 m.p.h. fastball from the Royals’ Yordano Ventura in the first inning for a home run and delivered a two-run single off Kelvin Herrera in the sixth.
The latter extended the Mets’ lead to five runs, all but putting the game out of reach. The home run was the second of Wright’s postseason career, his first in eight years.
The 32-year-old third baseman became the first player to drive in four runs in a World Series game since Shane Victorino did so for the Boston Red Sox in 2013. The mark fell one short of tying the Mets record, set by Rusty Staub in 1973.
"This is what you dream about as a kid, thinking about playing in a World Series game," Wright said. "Running around the bases, it's just like (you are) floating. You can't describe the excitement of hitting the home run, crossing home plate, high-fiving your teammates, looking up in the stands and just seeing people go absolutely nuts.
"It's one of those memories that's going to stick, for me at least, for the rest of my life."
Wright was one of nine Mets to tally at least a hit. Granderson smoked a two-run home run of his own, to lead off the third inning. Juan Uribe, in his first plate appearance since Sept. 25, preceded Wright’s single with a pinch-hit, run-scoring single.
Granderson became just the third leadoff hitter with at least two hits, a home run, two RBI and three runs scored in a World Series game and the first since Lenny Dykstra's two-home run performance for the Phillies in Game 4 of the 1993 World Series.
"He's just had a phenomenal year for us," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Granderson. "He picks us up when we needed to be picked up."
Noah Syndergaard earned the win, outpitching Ventura, who surrendered five runs over 3 1/3 innings. Syndergaard, a flame-throwing rookie whom the Mets had considered starting in Game 1, delivered six solid frames, settling in after a shaky start.
The assembly line that is typically the Royals offense was on display early, tagging Syndergaard for three runs on six hits over the game’s first three innings. Each of those hits came off Syndergaard’s fastball, the righthander’s best pitch and one that regularly reaches triple digits on radar guns.
But after Alcides Escobar’s single with two outs in the second inning, Syndergaard retired 12 consecutive batters, an impressive feat for any pitcher against these Royals. The pitcher worked out of self-inflicted trouble in the sixth, inducing an inning-ending, bases-loaded groundout from Alex Rios on his final pitch.
The Royals, known for their late-game heroics, did not fare any better against the Mets bullpen. Addison Reed logged a perfect seventh, Tyler Clippard a perfect eighth, and Jeurys Familia, in his first appearance since his blown save in Game 1, a perfect ninth.
The game was not without drama. On the first pitch of the game, Syndergaard threw a 98 m.p.h. heater at the head of Escobar, the Kansas City leadoff hitter who swings at the first pitch of seemingly every at-bat. Escobar ducked out of the way and fell to the ground as the pitch found a home at the backstop.
The Royals, not surprisingly, took offense to Syndergaard's placement of the fastball.
"I certainly wasn't trying to hit the guy. That's for sure," Syndergaard said. "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."