NEW YORK -- This seems close to what Curtis Granderson had in mind when he swapped boroughs almost two years ago, quipping that he'd heard that "true New Yorkers are Mets fans" while envisioning the turnaround of a franchise that hadn't enjoyed much to cheer about of late.
It didn't take long for Granderson's vision to materialize. With Citi Field hosting its first World Series game, Granderson slugged a two-run homer and scored three runs in Game 3, helping his Mets to a 9-3 victory over the Royals that they absolutely had to have.
"I think every game in the Series obviously is a must-win situation," Granderson said. "You come into tonight, obviously down two games to nothing, and this game is just as important as the previous one and the first game. But each team is trying to win as many games as they can as quickly as they can."
The Mets will try to build on their momentum in Game 4 on Saturday night (7:30 ET air time on FOX, 8 ET game time), and if they are able to replicate the magic of Davey Johnson's 1986 club by erasing an 0-2 deficit, Granderson will probably be a major factor.
The 34-year-old, installed to add veteran presence behind the crop of talented young hurlers on the rise, became just the third leadoff hitter in World Series history to collect at least two hits, a home run, two RBIs and three runs scored in a World Series game, joining Lenny Dykstra (1993 Phillies) and Earle Combs (1932 Yankees).
"He's just had a phenomenal year for us," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He picks us up when we've needed to be picked up."
A Mets leadoff hitter has now slugged a Game 3 homer in four of the franchise's five trips to the World Series. Tommie Agee ('69), Wayne Garrett ('73) and Dykstra ('86) all homered to start the game; Granderson waited until the third inning to flex his muscles, rocketing a line drive into the right-field front row with pitcher Noah Syndergaard aboard.
"We started the inning off with getting Noah on, which definitely set the tone for us," Granderson said. "I was trying to get a ball up in the zone that I can handle. [Yordano Ventura] throws hard, but to try to get something in the zone that you can do something with, he supplied all the power, and it ended up getting out of the ballpark."
Granderson, the first major free agent signed under general manager Sandy Alderson's watch, is providing the Mets with a blend of power, on-base ability and professional at-bats, reaching base safely in all 12 postseason games.
"I think we're still working on getting comfort," Granderson said. "That's the battle, especially when you're against a tough team like the Kansas City Royals, a pitching staff that does amazing things. And they bring all their weapons at any time, no matter who you're facing."
Collins also raved about how Granderson helped again on defense, making an excellent play to run down Ben Zobrist's deep fifth-inning drive, completing another perfect Syndergaard inning. Granderson said Zobrist's reputation and performance forced him to play deeper than usual.
"He put a good swing on the ball, and hopefully we'd be in a good spot," Granderson said. "I looked at [Yoenis Cespedes] and he wasn't going to get there, so I just kept going. And we ended up to being close, and I was able to reel it to end the inning for us."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.