<
>

Michael Conforto on inside-the-park homer: 'It's got to be caught'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Left fielder Michael Conforto thought he heard center fielder Yoenis Cespedes call for the fly ball. Cespedes, though, indicated that he "didn't say anything."

The bottom line: The first pitch from Matt Harvey in Game 1 of the World Series ended up kicking off Cespedes and bouncing away. Alcides Escobar motored around the bases for the first inside-the-park homer in the Fall Classic since 1929.

The Kansas City Royals went on to beat the New York Mets, 5-4, in 14 innings on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium.

"We're both going toward the gap," Conforto said. "I thought I heard something. It sounded like, 'I got it.' So I pulled up. I really don't want to make any excuses. I had a shot to catch that ball. Really, that ball can't get down. We're in the World Series and it's got to be caught. I had a chance to make the play and didn't make it."

Manager Terry Collins noted the rookie Conforto was playing in his first World Series game and potentially unaccustomed to the loudness of the ballpark.

"Michael could have caught it. He thought Cespedes called it," Collins said. "Yeah, it should have been caught, but wasn't caught."

Cespedes said through an interpreter he had difficulty getting there because of a shift.

"As I ran up to the ball, I looked at Conforto," Cespedes said. "And by the time I looked back up, I had lost the ball."

Collins had made the decision in Game 1 to not start Gold Glove winner Juan Lagares in center field. Kelly Johnson served as the designated hitter rather than one of the Mets' regular outfielders, which would have freed the outfield spot for Lagares.

In Game 2 on Wednesday, Collins already has indicated Lagares will start -- although also for offensive reasons. The manager cited Royals right-hander Johnny Cueto's reverse splits. Righty batters hit .265 and lefty batters hit .215 against Cueto during the regular season.