On the greatest stage baseball has to offer, Noah Syndergaard gave one of the game's greatest performances this season.
On the mound, sure, but we'll get to that in a minute. We're talking about his performance after the game, and after he was informed the players on the Kansas City Royals were mighty upset with him.
"If they have a problem with me throwing inside, they can meet me 60 feet, 6 inches away," Syndergaard said.
Nothing says "Game On" quite like an open invitation to charge the mound.
The Royals still lead the series, two games to one. But Syndergaard, a rookie whose first start this season came against the Sacramento River Cats, owned his purpose pitch in a way few veterans do. He is 23 years old, with no apparent interest in the usual shrug and "hey, the pitch got away from me" pablum.
Before David Wright homered and drove in four runs, before Curtis Granderson homered and scored three runs, and before Juan Uribe came off the bench to deliver an RBI single in his first at-bat in a month, Syndergaard threw the first pitch of the game.
It was a fastball, high and tight, at 99 mph — so high, in fact, that it went all the way to the backstop. Escobar jerked backward to get out of the way, and the Royals bench barked at Syndergaard.
Throw inside, the Royals said, no problem. Throw high and inside, they said, big problem.
"I'm not sure if it was on purpose like that," Escobar told reporters. "I don't think like that. I simply think it was wrong."
Syndergaard was happy to clear up any confusion the Royals had. The pitch was on purpose, absolutely, as he had told catcher Travis d'Arnaud on Friday afternoon.
"My first words I said to Travis when we walked in the clubhouse: 'How do you feel about high and tight for the first pitch and then a curveball for the second one?'" Syndergaard said. "So I feel like it really made a statement to start the game off."
Escobar flailed at that second-pitch curve. He fouled off the third pitch, another curve. He struck out on the fourth, a 99-mph fastball.
"My intent on that pitch was to make them uncomfortable, and I feel like I did just that," Syndergaard said. "I think every postseason game that Escobar has played in, he's swung at the first-pitch fastball.
"I didn't think he would want to swing at that one."
Syndergaard batted twice in the game. The Royals did not throw at him, and he even got a single. If he pitches again in the series, it almost certainly would be in a Game7 start, and the Royals ought not dare retaliate in a winner-take-all game.
Thing is, the Royals had Syndergaard on the ropes (pun intended) without fighting him. After he struck out Escobar to open the game, he gave up hits to six of the next nine batters. Kansas City led, 3-2, but then a pitcher lost composure — not Syndergaard, but Royals starter Yordano Ventura.
Ventura gave up a two-run home run to Wright in the first inning and a two-run home run by Granderson in the third that put the Mets ahead for good. He was done in the fourth, after forgetting to cover first base on what was scored as an RBI single.
"He was starting to get a little flustered," Royals Manager Ned Yost said.
The Mets scored seven unanswered runs to win the game, and all the Royals were left flustered after the game. The Mets didn't take matters quite so seriously, given where Syndergaard's pitch actually ended up.
"That's the first time I've ever seen him throw the ball over the catcher's head," Mets Manager Terry Collins said. "Never seen that before."