By Anthony DiComo and Jeffrey Flanagan
KANSAS CITY -- It was arguably one of the most pulsating, tense and unforgettable Game 1s in World Series history.
From the moment of the first pitch, when Royals starter Edinson Volquez began hurling two-seam fastballs unaware of the tragic news that awaited him after the game, that his father had passed away earlier in the day, to the Bill Bucknerish boot by Royals Gold Glove first baseman Eric Hosmer that gave the Mets a one-run lead in the eighth, to the dramatic game-tying homer by Alex Gordon in the ninth, and finally to Hosmer's redemption, a game-winning sacrifice fly in the 14th, it was all there. A night packed with drama.
And in the end, in what matched for the third time the longest game in World Series history, the Royals survived, 5-4, in a Tuesday game that lasted five hours and nine minutes, stretching into Wednesday morning.
Long before it ended, though, there was Volquez pitching his heart out for six strong innings before having that same heart broken upon hearing the news in the clubhouse from his wife that his father, Daniel, had died from heart complications at the age of 63 earlier in the day.
Most of the players found out in a text from Volquez after the game had ended, a text that thanked his teammates for winning. It was the third parent of a Kansas City player who has passed away this season.
"Just another angel above looking out for us," Hosmer said.
And now, just like they have done all season, the Royals will band as brothers and carry on. On short rest, both teams will march back to Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday for Game 2 of the best-of-seven Series on FOX (7:30 p.m. ET air time; 8 p.m. game time).
"Just trying to put the ball in play, trying to get that run in," said Hosmer about his walk-off sac fly. "The bullpen, the way they shut it down for us right there, as an offense we had to do something.
"Obviously, I wanted to redeem myself for what happened earlier. That's the beauty of this game, you always get a chance to redeem yourself. I just can't thank my teammates enough, [Gordon] and everybody picking me up right there and giving me another opportunity."
Gordon smashed a one-out homer in the bottom of the ninth off Mets closer Jeurys Familia, tying the score at 4. It was Familia's first blown save since July 30.
"Never saw him before, but I knew he was really good," Gordon said. "Definitely wasn't trying to do that against him. Great sinker, so I wanted to be ready for it.
"The at-bat before with [Salvador Perez], I saw him quick pitch. I wasn't expecting that, and I wanted to make sure when I got in the box that I was ready to hit. And he tried to quick pitch me and left the ball right there to hit, and with a guy like that, you can't miss pitches that he gives you to hit. And that's what happened."
Chris Young earned the win with three shutout innings of relief. Young had been slated to start Game 4, leaving his status for the start unknown.
"I was just ready, whatever the team needs," Young said. "That's been my role all season, whether it's starting or relieving, just trying to help this team win.
"What a great game. The Mets are a tough team. We've got our work cut out for us, but tonight was huge. Home run by Alex Gordon, and then the character, the fight, to find a way to win late, that's a great team effort."
"That's a beautiful thing about the game in general, that you can have a tough loss like this today and bounce back tomorrow and hopefully get the 'W'," said Wright.
The Mets had taken a 4-3 lead when Wilmer Flores sent a two-out bouncer that eluded Hosmer, a Gold Glove first baseman, in the eighth inning, allowing Juan Lagares to score from second base.
Lagares had singled and stole second. His run was the first go-ahead run to score on an error in the eighth inning or later of a World Series game since Boston first baseman Bill Buckner's error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the Mets.
Volquez also threw six innings for the Royals and gave up six hits and three runs. He was watching video in Kansas City's video room when he was alerted by a club official that his wife was waiting for him in the clubhouse. That's when Volquez was told that his father had passed.
"It's the third brother in this room that has lost a parent this season," pitcher Jeremy Guthrie said. "That just doesn't happen."
Mike Moustakas lost his mother, Connie, earlier this season, and Young lost his father, Charles, less than a month ago.
"It's really difficult to talk to anyone about it," Young said. "I know what he is going through tonight. I just feel so sorry for him."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Gone, Gordon, gone: Familia had not blown a save opportunity since July 30, when Justin Upton and the Padres bested him between rain delays at Citi Field. He had not allowed a home run since Sept. 23, nor any type of run all postseason. None of that mattered to Gordon, who bludgeoned a 97-mph sinker over the center-field fence for a game-tying homer with one out in the ninth. Statcast™ projected the solo shot to land 438 feet from home plate. More >
Eighth-inning magic: The Mets seemed ready to go quietly in the top of the eighth, until Lagares punctuated a nine-pitch at-bat against Kelvin Herrera with a two-out single up the middle, repeatedly fighting off 100-mph pitches earlier in the plate appearance. Lagares then swiped second base, moving into scoring position for Flores, who chopped a bouncer to first base. When it glanced off Hosmer's glove, Lagares raced home to give the Mets a 4-3 lead.
"I thought it was going to be an out," Flores said. "I thought he was going to get in front of it, and that was going to be it. That surprised me. That was amazing."
The LoCain steal: Cain singled with one out in the sixth inning, pushing Zobrist to third. After Hosmer lifted a sacrifice fly to score Zobrist, Cain stole second off Harvey and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. That turned out to be huge, because Kendrys Morales followed with a one-hopper back to the mound that would have been a sure double play. Instead, the Mets only got the out at first. Moustakas followed with a sharp single to center and the Royals had Game 1 tied at 3.
First-pitch Esky: Everyone should have known Escobar would swing at the first pitch -- it's what he does -- and sure enough, he went after Harvey's first offering and drove it deep to left-center. At that point, there was confusion between Mets center fielder Yoenis Cespedes and left fielder Michael Conforto, and Cespedes overran the ball. Cespedes tried to backhand the catch, but the ball caromed off his leg and bounced far away from both fielders as Escobar circled the bases. It marked the 12th inside-the-park home run in World Series history, and the first since George "Mule" Haas of the Philadelphia Athletics vs. the Cubs in 1929.
"As I ran up to the ball, I looked at Conforto," Cespedes said, "and by the time I looked up, I had lost the ball. After I lost it, of course, I tried to go back and grab it. I tried to do something." More >
The Royals challenged a safe call in the ninth inning as Wright appeared to steal second base, and the call was quickly overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Mets: Pitching for the first time in eight days, right-hander Jacob deGrom will take the mound for New York in Game 2. The Mets feel the extra rest can only benefit deGrom, who struggled at times during his victories in National League Division Series Game 5 and NL Championship Series Game 3. This will be deGrom's World Series debut. More >
Royals: Right-hander Johnny Cueto will take the hill for Kansas City in Game 2. Cueto is coming off a rough start in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, in which he gave up eight runs in two-plus innings. But Cueto was fantastic in his last Kauffman Stadium start, retiring the last 19 hitters he faced in series-clinching Game 5 of the AL Division Series in a 7-2 win over the Astros. More >