“Never Give Up! Never Surrender!”

By: Paul DiSclafani

galaxy quest 1The 2015 New York Mets need to invoke the rallying cry from the 1999 comedy “Galaxy Quest” that followed the adventures of a group of actors from a fictional TV series (think Star Trek) who get put back together and have to fight real aliens to defend a race of Thermians, who think the TV show was real.

I know, it sounds ridiculous, but the movie was such a hit it has been included in the top 100 comedies of all time.

And now Commander Peter Taggert (Tim Allen) and the crew from the NESA Protector have five simple words for the Mets and their fans.  Stand up, make a fist with your right hand and cover your heart: “Never give up, Never Surrender”.

Trailing the World Series three games to one, the Mets have no margin for error. Tonight, Matt Harvey will try to send the Mets back to Kansas City for a Game 6 where they will throw Jacob deGrom and a Game 7, where they will throw Noah Syndergaard.

Other than Game 2, which they were outplayed and stymied by Johnny Cuerto, the Mets let Games 1 and 4 slip away, losing leads late. In their eyes, they should be up three games to one.

But baseball is a game of 27 outs – you need to get all of them to win. All other sports use time clocks to determine when a game ends.  You get a lead in those other sports, you can win a game by managing the clock to your advantage and just stalling until the time literally runs out on your opponent.  Not baseball.  There’s no place to hide.

These Kansas City Royals just don’t quit. They are like little gnats, or cockroaches. Maybe more like vampires.  This postseason alone, they have manufactured six comeback victories from at least two runs down.  Nobody has done that in almost 20 years.  The Royals have scored an incredible 44 runs in the seventh inning or later, the most ever in the postseason.

The mantra of these Royals and coach Dale Sveum is to just “keep the line moving”. They are not cracking game winning 3-run home runs, they are keeping at-bats alive and putting runners on base.  Their station-to-station philosophy has them just one win away from their first World Championship since 1985.

They have hit just one ball over the fence – and that was the game tying home run by Alex Gordon in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs. The Royals are finding a way.  They stole a game against David Price and the Blue Jays in Toronto in the ALCS and in Game 4 against the Mets, they sent seven men to the plate and scored three times.

They have struck out only 26 times in the first four games of this series against the Mets vaunted starters.

Want some more gloom and doom? Of the 80 best of seven series that went into Game 5 three games to one, only 17 teams have come back to win and 39 of those teams with the lead closed the series out in Game 5.  The last time a team did that on the road was the 2004 Boston Red Sox.  The last team to do that on the road?  Why, it was these same Kansas City Royals, who came back from a three games to one deficit to win their last World Series Title in 1985.

Never give up!  Never Surrender!

Forget the gloom and doom – how about these numbers?

  • The Mets have had the lead in every game in the World Series in the fifth inning.
  • Tonight’s Royals starter Edinson Volquez, who tragically lost his Dad just prior to Game 1, has not recorded an out in the seventh inning all postseason.
  • Matt Harvey is pitching on his customary four days rest
  • Manager Need Yost was forced to go to his bullpen early and often in Games 3 and 4.  In Game 4, he used closer Wade Davis for six outs and 27 pitches. He has never pitched on consecutive days after throwing 25 pitches.
  • Ryan Madson, Luke Hochevar and Danny Duffy all pitched in Games 3 and 4 and both Madson and Hocheaver missed 2013 because of injuries and have not pitched three consecutive days all season. Duffy, who was just moved to the bullpen in September, had never pitched on consecutive days until Games 3 and 4.

Never give up!  Never Surrender!

galaxy quest 2The Mets need to get to Volquez early and often to have any shot. Harvey needs to go deep in this game to give his own bullpen a break.  It’s his last start of the year, so there is nothing to save for.

Before this series started, most baseball fans would have agreed with the following premise: The Mets split in Kansas City and the Royals get one in NY, setting up a Game 6 in Kansas City.  Most Mets fans would take that Game 6 in Kansas City right now.

The Royals know firsthand that coming back from a 3-1 deficit is possible. They also know that they have been far from dominant in this series.  They have relied on late inning rallies once they got into the Mets bullpen.  They have made the best use of their 27 outs.  But they also know that they need to end this now.

A loss tonight pushes them into a Game 6 and the prospect of facing a fairly annoyed Jacob deGrom, who has recorded all three of his postseason wins on the road. It also raises the possibility of the Royals having to face Noah Syndergaard again in this series, in a winner-take-all Game 7.

The series has not been the mismatch that the final results, so far, seem to indicate. A team up three games to one has usually dominated the opponent.  But gnats don’t dominate anyone.  They annoy you, but you don’t pack your bags and go home.  You slap them off and after a while, you can just ignore them.

Never give up!  Never Surrender!

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