Updated after Syndergaard’s performance Wednesday afternoon.
Not for a second did I buy into the idea the Royals planned retaliation against the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard for his buzz job past Alcides Escobar in Game 3 of last year’s World Series. Escobar has a reputation of going after the first pitch, and Syndergaard didn’t want him digging in and getting too comfortable.
The Royals did a lot of screaming from the dugout, and after the game Syndergaard said if they had a problem with him they knew where to find him, which is 60 feet, 6 inches, from the plate.
That was another brushback pitch.
Syndergaard brushed back the Royals entirely in Tuesday’s 2-0 stuffing as he struck out nine in six innings.
The game’s turning point came in the first inning when Escobar tripled to lead off, but Syndergaard responded by striking out the next three. It seemed whenever Syndergaard was in any trouble, he responded with heat. He struck out Kendrys Morales to end the sixth with a runner in scoring position.
Syndergaard was locked in all day, much the way he was focused when he faced Escobar in the World Series.
In March, a Newsday report stated the Royals were planning payback, which was off on two counts: 1) Escobar wasn’t hit, so there was nothing to retaliate against, and 2) if the Royals did have it in for Syndergaard, they certainly wouldn’t be dumb enough to announce it ahead of time.
Syndergaard recently said as much: “I don’t think they’re too fond of me, but as far as retaliation goes, I really don’t know what they’re going to retaliate against. All I did was establish the inner part of the plate. So I don’t know what this whole retaliation talk is all about. But it’s going to be an interesting time. … I simply threw a pitch on the inside corner. Elevated. A purpose pitch. I don’t really see how any retaliation could be made.”
It was during spring training. It was a slow news day. And, it was an interesting, juicy thought. But it simply didn’t make sense.
I’ll tell you why there is a buzz about this story. What Syndergaard did, trying to establish the inside part of the plate, is an old school concept, something people these days can’t grasp. Catchers get run over and hard slides take out infielders, so rules have to be changed.
Bryce Harper, a marvelous talent, but also clueless at times, said baseball needs life and has no problems with players expressing themselves with bat flips and celebrations. Another generation would respond to a bat flip with a knockdown pitch, something the current generation doesn’t understand.