LUTZ: Colon an unlikely World Series hero for Royals
Be honest. Did you even know Christian Colon was on the Royals' postseason roster?
But it was Colon, straight out of witness protection, whose sharp single delivered the go-ahead run in the 12th inning Sunday night at Citi Field that became the winning run of the 2015 World Series. The Royals tacked on four more runs in the 12th because when the flood gates open for this team, they're nearly impossible to close.
Royals 7, Mets 2. And this thing is over in five games.
After coming close in 2014 — a Game 7 loss to the San Francisco Giants with the tying run on third base — the Royals won the American League Central championship and went to this postseason with something to prove. And wielding a magic wand, just in case.
The Royals, of course, trailed for much of Sunday night's game as Mets starter Matt Harvey had Kansas City's batters mesmerized. He went to the bench after the top of the eighth inning with a 2-0 lead. It looked like the World Series was headed back to Kauffman Stadium.
Royals show resolve: Except that the Royals have been doing the unimaginable since the playoffs started. Their late-inning comeback from a 6-2 deficit against Houston in Game 4 of the AL Divisional Series was, we discovered, a precursor of things to come. This championship team will be remembered for its resolve and ingenuity.
They made baseball look good and they have stocked a fan base in need of replenishment. There are Royals fans now on every street corner, every grocery store aisle, every gas station.
You never stopped watching the Royals in this postseason because the players never stopped believing they would overcome any obstacle. There was nothing this team couldn't do, even if they left everyone scratching their heads as to how they got it done.
Colon hadn't appeared in the postseason when he came to the plate to pinch-hit in the 12th with pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson at third and one out. Colon immediately fell behind 0-2 against Mets reliever Addison Reed, who fooled the Royals' hitter with sliders. So he kept throwing sliders and got one up in the strike zone, which Colon fouled off.
So what did Reed do? He threw another slider, again at the belt. And Colon, a reserve infielder who batted .290 in just more than 100 at-bats during the regular season, swatted it into left field.
Of course he did.
Then the Royals kept hitting. They added four more runs and outscored opponents 51-11 from the seventh inning on in this postseason.
They're the Muhammad Ali of baseball, wearing down opponents with jabs and hooks before swooping in for the knockout against an exhausted, leg-weary opponent.
The Royals captured something this postseason and every general manager in the game will work all hours to figure out what that something is and how they can make it work for them. Good luck, because it defies explanation and, likely, reproduction.
Mets wonder 'what if': The Mets, meanwhile, will forever wonder "what if."
The decision to let Harvey pitch the ninth was part no-brainer, part bird-brain.
The Mets' braintrust, manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen, had made the decision that Harvey, who had thrown 103 pitches through eight innings, had had enough. They were set to turn the 2-0 game over to closer Jeurys Familia, who had 43 saves during the regular season but had blown his two opportunities in the World Series.
When Warthen told Harvey of the decision, the Mets' pitchers did all but challenge him to a high-noon duel.
"No way, no way," Harvey said. Then he went to seek out Collins, who ultimately relented.
As Harvey took the mound for the ninth, Mets fans went crazy. He was going to finish this thing off, get the series back to Kansas City and allow the Mets to take their chances with right-hander Jacob deGrom going in Game 6 and righty Noah Syndergaard in a potential Game 7.
Letting Harvey in: The Royals, though, have a way of taking good decisions — and giving the ball to Harvey to start the ninth was a good decision — come out bad.
A pumped-up Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain to lead off the ninth. And everybody in America expected Collins to pull him. But the lure of letting Harvey get to the finish line apparently was pulling at Collins and he left Harvey out there. And Eric Hosmer, whose error in the sixth allowed the Mets to score an unearned run, delivered a double over the head of left fielder Michael Conforto, on which Cain scored.
Hosmer got to third on a Mike Moustakas ground out and scored — well, you won't believe how he scored. Salvador Perez chopped a grounder to Mets third baseman David Wright, who was playing in to cut down the potential tying run at the plate. He glanced at Hosmer before throwing to first. When the ball left Wright's right hand, Hosmer took off. And Mets first baseman Lucas Duda made a horrible throw to the plate.
A good throw to the plate would have gotten Hosmer easily. But in this year of the Royals, it had to be a terrible throw to the plate. Hosmer scored, the game went on, and the Royals pulled it out.
World champs. And a team that will wear its crown well.