Tying homer off Familia in ninth gives Royals new life
By Paul Hagen
KANSAS CITY -- Without it, the Royals wouldn't have been jumping for joy near home plate. Without it, Royals fans wouldn't have hung around for more than five hours of baseball, and left Kauffman Stadium both exhilarated and exhausted.
Without Alex Gordon's dramatic bottom-of-the-ninth-inning home run off dominant Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night (and early into Wednesday morning), the Royals almost certainly would have lost, and needed to win Game 2 (tonight on FOX at 7:30 p.m. ET, game time at 8 p.m.) to gain a split at home.
Instead, Gordon's blast to dead center tied the score, and gave Kansas City another life. And the Royals didn't squander their second chance, winning, 5-4, in 14 innings on Eric Hosmer's sacrifice fly.
The home run provided redemption not only for the team as a whole, but for a couple of teammates specifically. For Hosmer, whose error in the top of the eighth led to an unearned, go-ahead run for New York. For Lorenzo Cain, who helped short-circuit a potential rally by not getting a bunt down in the bottom of that inning.
"I was the happiest guy in the stadium to have another opportunity to do something positive for your team," Hosmer said. "Obviously, you don't want the game to end like that. That's why Gordon means so much to this team. He put the team on his back, got us back in the game."
Added Cain: "It was definitely very nice to see. Because I didn't get the bunt down. For him to come through there, I was definitely very relieved."
Until Gordon's bomb, Familia had been dominant in the postseason, he hadn't allowed a run. He had given up just two hits in 10 innings. So, yeah, the Mets liked their chances with him on the mound.
"He doesn't give up home runs. So we were all shocked by it," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "We liked where we were at."
Gordon said he got sinkers. Familia said they were fastballs. Regardless, the first pitch at 97 mph was taken for a ball. The second was fouled off. The third was nailed -- a rocket at 107 mph off the bat, soaring 421 feet into the center field batter's eye, according to Statcast™ -- and setting off a frenzied celebration by the home crowd.
It was the first blown save for Familia since July 30. It was also the first game-tying or go-ahead homer in the ninth inning or later of Game 1 of the World Series since Kirk Gibson's iconic shot off Dennis Eckersley in 1988.
"This is a game everybody knows we make mistakes," Familia said. "Tomorrow's a new day. I don't think about it. He made a good swing. No, it's not difficult. I understand it's a game. I can make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes."
"I never saw him before, but I knew he was really good," Gordon said. "I definitely wasn't trying to do that against him. Great sinker, so I wanted to be ready for it.
"I'll tell you, we never get frustrated or hang our heads when we're down. We always feel like we can come back and either make it a game or win the game. I think that speaks for our team chemistry, that we all pull together and we're fighting for one thing, and that's to get the W."
Gordon said he noticed that Familia had quick-pitched Salvador Perez, who was batting before him.
"It's part of the game," Gordon said. "A lot of guys do it now. I didn't know he did it, but I saw it with [Perez]. I usually like to get loose, but when I got up there, I got ready right away. Just to make sure I was ready and not be surprised by it. With nobody out, it's part of baseball. You've just got to be ready for it. He did it and left me a good pitch to hit."
Gordon didn't miss it. If he had, the Royals would have missed everything that followed.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.