NEW YORK -- Now the World Series really begins. At least that's how the New York Mets have to feel about it. Confidence is a subtle thing. It can't be seen or measured or touched. On a stage like this one, it looms large.
That's something the Mets almost certainly nudged in their direction in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night at Citi Field. First, they beat the Royals, 9-3, in front of 44,781, the largest crowd in the history of this spectacularly beautiful ballpark.
There was a little of that old Shea Stadium vibe in the place. Remember what that sounded like? When the Mets were rolling, Shea might have the best environment in all of baseball -- a loud and raucous place that produced ovations resembling thunderclaps.
"The home crowd ... incredible, incredible," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "We knew what to expect coming into this, based on playing here throughout the postseason, but this was at a different level."
This is exactly what the Mets were hoping for when they departed Kansas City in an 0-2 hole. They remained confident because they'd come too far and won too much to be shaken by two losses.
The Mets knew a World Series game in New York City would be a spectacle -- loud and colorful and possibly a tad intimidating. They hoped to ride that energy and push the reset button on this World Series.
And that's what they got.
This victory eases the pressure a bit and allows New York simply to go out and play baseball. Is that possible in a World Series? The Mets have dealt with enough pressure already this postseason that they're unlikely to blink now.
"There's some pretty good conversations going on this afternoon in the clubhouse with some guys," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "To where this is when we rise up and we've got our backs to the wall. So they were ready."
Sure, all the Royals have to do is win Game 4 on Saturday (7:30 p.m. airtime on FOX, 8 p.m. game time), and the Mets will be pushed against the wall. They can live with that. It's no longer about avoiding a sweep. It's about being themselves.
The Mets' rotation got beat up in Games 1-2, allowing seven earned runs in 11 innings, for a 5.73 ERA. Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard drew a line in the sand, surviving a shaky start to allow three earned runs in six innings.
Syndergaard began the game by throwing a 98-mph fastball high and inside to Kansas City leadoff man Alcides Escobar. He said he wanted to make Escobar uncomfortable. Syndergaard was also sending a message that the Mets still have some of their swagger left.
Syndergaard did that in other ways as well. He induced 16 swings and misses, which is three fewer than all other starting pitchers in this World Series combined. By the time Collins turned things over to his bullpen, the Mets had a 9-3 lead and a fresh start.
The Mets beat the Dodgers and Cubs to reach the Fall Classic, even with much of their offense coming from second baseman Daniel Murphy.
In Game 3, there were indications others are getting hot. Wright drove in four runs, Curtis Granderson homered and the Mets had 12 hits in all. This is the team that led the National League in runs after the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
So now New York has pushed back. While Syndergaard gave the Mets just what they wanted, Royals starter Yordano Ventura allowed five runs in 3 1/3 innings.
And if the series goes to seven games, these are the two pitchers lined up to go against one another again.
Both teams say they never thought this would be a quick series and that they came prepared for a 15-round fight. Game 3 was a step in that direction.
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.