NEW YORK -- It's officially a World Series, in more ways than one.
Yes, the Mets battered the Royals in Game 3, 9-3, on Friday night, shrinking their Series deficit to 2-1, but several Royals were more furious because they felt Mets starter Noah Syndergaard threw the first pitch of the game toward Alcides Escobar's head.
Most upset of all was Escobar, especially since Syndergaard pledged during Thursday's off-day that he had a "trick up his sleeve" for the Royals' shortstop's penchant of hunting first-pitch fastballs.
"I didn't like it at all," Escobar said. "He even said he had a plan. I feel like if that's the plan, it's a stupid plan. That's it. I don't think any pitcher is going to throw a ball at someone's head at 98 mph on the first pitch of the game. If he wants to do that, throw it at my feet, throw it anywhere, but not at my head.
"It's wrong. To me, that's wrong. I don't think any pitcher should do that. If we do that to them, they're going to say it was on purpose. The only thing I'll say is that it's wrong."
After Syndergaard's fastball sent Escobar to the dirt, several Royals began barking from the dugout.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas could be seen on television cameras screaming at Syndergaard.
"I wasn't the only guy upset. Twenty-five guys in that dugout were pretty fired up," Moustakas, who was not in the clubhouse after the game, told "Baseball Tonight."
Escobar has had an incredible postseason. He leads all players with 21 hits, which is a Royals record for a single postseason. In addition, Escobar now has a 13-game postseason hitting streak, tying the club record Lorenzo Cain set earlier this month.
The Mets certainly were looking for ways to combat Escobar, and Syndergaard didn't back down from his first-pitch approach when asked about it after the game.
"I mean, my first words to [catcher] Travis [d'Arnaud] when we walked in the clubhouse today was, 'How do you feel about high and tight for the first pitch?'" Syndergaard said. "I mean, I certainly wasn't trying to hit the guy, that's for sure. I just didn't want him getting too comfortable. If they have a problem with me throwing inside, then they can meet me 60 feet, 6 inches away. I've got no problem with that.
"I know that from the past, I think every postseason game Escobar has played in, he has swung at the first-pitch fastball, and I didn't think he would want to swing at that one."
The Royals' reaction, though, was quick and to the point.
"I didn't like it," right fielder Alex Rios said. "It was weak. ... For him to throw up at his head, that was very weak and unprofessional."
And first baseman Eric Hosmer vowed the Royals might have something up their sleeve as well.
"He said he came in with a master plan or something, and I guess that was throwing at his head," Hosmer said. "That's all right. We might think of our own master plan.
"What he did, it's just not the way you go about it."
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.