Yoenis Cespedes launching long drives, Lorenzo Cain dashing to catch them. Noah Syndergaard zinging 100 mph heat, Alcides Escobar trying to catch up.
The pitching-rich New York Mets, boosted by Daniel Murphy‘s power surge. The plucky Kansas City Royals, constantly pressuring opponents and aiming to atone for last year’s near-miss.
A tasty World Series, served up with some BBQ and bagels. A dead even one, too, beginning Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
“I opened it as a pick,” Johnny Avello, head oddsmaker at the Wynn Las Vegas, said Saturday. “I don’t remember doing that before in the World Series.”
“The Mets, they have that pitching staff that’s been unbelievable in the postseason and they can set up their rotation,” he said. “The Royals have the home field and all that experience. They were glad to make it there last time, and now they’re looking for the W.”
The Royals locked in the matchup Friday night, beating Toronto 4-3 in Game 6 of AL Championship Series. They scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning when Cain sprinted home from first base on a single.
“They seem relentless,” Murphy observed Saturday during a workout. “They never stop coming. What a great characteristic to have as a ball club.”
The Mets were waiting to see who they’d play, having swept the Cubs on Wednesday night in the NLCS.
“Really good team. Really good pitching over there,” Escobar, MVP of the ALCS, said about the New Yorkers.
Already, the clubs have made history — this is the first World Series between franchises born in the expansion-era 1960s.
Maybe more on deck.
Can Murphy, never a major home run threat with the Mets, extend his record by connecting in a seventh straight postseason game? How will Kendrys Morales, Escobar and KC’s contact hitters fare against Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and the fresh New York aces? When will closers Jeurys Familia and Wade Davis ever give up a run?
Plus, the first World Series action at Citi Field when the scene shifts for Game 3. Then Game 4 on Halloween night, followed by Game 5 in November on the day of the New York City Marathon.
Plenty of stars on both sides — David Wright and Curtis Granderson for New York; Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez for Kansas City — who fans can follow into the future.
In fact, consider this a preview for the 2016 season. Yep, opening day in the majors next April 4 is Mets at Royals.
This much is certain: One team wearing blue is about to end a long drought.
The Royals, who lost to San Francisco in Game 7 at home last October, haven’t won the crown since George Brett and Bret Saberhagen starred in 1985. The Mets’ most recent title came in 1986, led by Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden.
Over the years, the Royals and Mets did share some things. David Cone, Carlos Beltran and Saberhagen are among the guys who played for both teams.
The teams have met only nine times since interleague play began in 1997, with the Royals holding a 5-4 edge. The Mets haven’t even visited Kansas City since 2004.
But not much to link this current crop of Mets and Royals to each other. Other than a pair of clubs playing real sharp ball these days.
Manager Ned Yost‘s Royals are known for speed, defense and their bullpen. Cain and the other fleet outfielders seem to catch everything, and young ace Yordano Ventura has made his mark with every hard fastball.
Kansas City also has loads of World Series experience and added veteran Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto for the pennant push.
Mets manager Terry Collins is in his first World Series, as are nearly all his players. Few of them had been in the postseason until this year.
No matter, they did just fine in the deciding Game 5 of the Division Series vs. major league ERA leader Zack Greinke at Dodger Stadium. Didn’t hurt them against the big-hitting Cubs, either — the Mets never trailed for a single inning in that series.
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.