Alex Gordon fell 90 feet short in his bid to tie a World Series game last October.
On Tuesday, he took matters into his own hands.
Gordon hit a dramatic solo home run with one out in the ninth inning, and the Royals came back to edge the Mets 5-4 in 14 innings to take Game 1 of the World Series. The Royals won on a walk-off sacrifice fly from Eric Hosmer after loading the bases to start the 14th inning.
Long before the fireworks went off over Kaufmann Stadium, Alcides Escobar led off the bottom of the first inning with a bang of his own. The speedy shortstop hit a line drive to center that center fielder Yoenis Cespedes -- playing center because Mets manager Terry Collins opted to start Kelly Johnson at designated hitter rather than substituting Juan Lagares in as a defensive upgrade -- kicked, allowing Escobar to complete an inside-the-park home run.
The Mets would answer with three runs over the next five innings against Royals starter Edinson Volquez, who was pitching hours after the death of his father, but the Royals got to Mets starter Matt Harvey for two runs in the sixth to tie the game. Both starters turned in quality starts, and neither came close to factoring in the decision.
The Mets took a lead in the eighth that appeared to be the deciding run before Gordon stepped to the plate against Mets closer Jeurys Familia in the ninth. The home run was the first Familia has allowed since September 23, and it was his first blown save since before the trade deadline. The last time Familia blew a save was July 30, when Justin Upton hit a three-run homer in the ninth to give the Padres an 8-7 win.
The teams traded opportunities for the next four innings but neither could break through against the other's bullpen. Starters-turned-relievers Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon, who took the loss, pitching in extras for the Mets, while probable Game 4 starter Chris Young threw three innings in relief for the Royals. Young didn't allow a hit while striking out four in earning the victory.
And after starting off the scoring, Escobar provided the bookend as well. He reached on an error by David Wright to start the 14th inning, and after a Ben Zobrist single and a Lorenzo Cain intentional walk, Escobar raced home on Hosmer's deep fly ball to right, capping the longest Game 1 in World Series history.
Encarnacion Has Hernia Surgery
The extent of injuries often isn't known during the postseason, and that was true of an injury to one of the Blue Jays' stars in recent weeks.
Edwin Encarnacion, who was known to be dealing with a finger injury in recent weeks, recently underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia, the Blue Jays announced Tuesday. Encarnacion made it out of surgery without issue, and the team said he's expected to be ready for the start of spring training.
The club offered little more information on the issue, so it's unclear how long Encarnacion might have been plagued by the ailment. Encarnacion hit .333/.478/.556 in the ALDS but struggled to a .227/.292/.273 line in an ALCS loss to the Royals. The ligament sprain in his left middle finger, which forced him to exit ALCS Game 1 but didn't cost him any starts in the series, likely played into those struggles as well.
If it affected him for much of the season, the 32-year-old certainly didn't show it. Encarnacion batted .277/.372/.557 with 39 home runs, 111 RBI and 94 runs scored in the middle of the Jays' order this year, playing in 146 of the team's 162 games. Encarnacion will undoubtedly have his $10 million club option for next season exercised, after which he'll be a free agent.
Utley To Return In 2016
Chase Utley will also be back next season, though it's unclear for which team he'll be playing.
The second baseman, whose $15 million option for next year will almost certainly be declined by the Dodgers, is definitely planning on playing somewhere in 2016, his agent, Joel Wolfe, said Tuesday.
“One hundred percent he is playing next year,” Wolfe told The New York Post.
It's unclear who might have interest in the 36-year-old. Utley batted just .212/.286/.343 in 107 games this past season while missing time with a right ankle injury. He'll turn 37 in December.
The Dodgers acquired him for the stretch run, but they have a wealth of infielders under team control, even with the imminent departures of Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins. His former team, the Phillies, has begun the rebuilding process and likely wouldn't have a place for a veteran on the downside of his career.
More likely, Utley could find a home as a backup on a contender. Utley made starts at first and third base last year as well as at second, increasing his versatility as a utility infielder. An above average offensive player as recently as 2014, Utley should find a home -- somewhere -- this winter.
Quick Hits: The Rangers are expected to discuss a long-term contract extension with Rougned Odor this offseason, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Odor is just 21 years old and is under team control through 2019, but the organization may attempt to buy some of Odor's free agent years at a discount after he hit 16 homers with 61 RBI in 2015 ... Don Mattingly's interview with the Marlins "went well," per Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Mattingly is widely viewed as the favorite for the gig, and Frisaro said "the next step appears to be ironing out a deal" after the World Series ... Yoenis Cespedes' shoulder is not at 100 percent, the outfielder told Marly Rivera of ESPN Deportes. He received a cortisone shot in the shoulder following the Mets' NLCS win, and while he's dealing with some discomfort, there's zero chance he won't be in the lineup for every game of the World Series ... There was doubt that Juan Uribe (chest) would be ready for the World Series, but the third baseman was added to the Mets' roster prior to Tuesday's game. Uribe hadn't played since September 25 due to a bruised chest ... Infielder Raul Mondesi was added to the Royals' World Series roster, replacing Terrance Gore. If used, Mondesi, who hit .243/.279/.372 in 81 games at Double-A as a 20-year-old this season, would be the first player in MLB history to make his MLB debut in a World Series game.