When Kansas City got its first major league team in 1955, it waited 30 years for a World Series title (and it was a different team that got it). After another 30 years, a second banner is set to go up at Kauffman Stadium. So we begin this roundup of our favorite postseason oddities with "The K."
Jake Arrieta started by dominating the Pirates, joining Orval Overall as the only Cubs pitchers to throw a postseason shutout with double-digit strikeouts. Overall's game won the Cubs their last title; it was the clinching Game 5 of the 1908 World Series against Detroit.
The Cubs, however, then got shut out in National League Division Series Game 1, their second time starting a postseason series with a zero (1918) and their first time losing by shutout immediately after winning by shutout. Jon Lester became the first Cubs pitcher to lose a postseason game in which he had at least nine strikeouts since Jack Pfiester in 1906.
Jacob deGrom and Clayton Kershaw combined for a dazzling 24 strikeouts in their NLDS opener. It was the second game in postseason history in which two pitchers reached double digits; the other duo was Mort Cooper and Denny Galehouse in the all-St. Louis series of 1944.
Lester and Kershaw were among four pitchers to have nine strikeouts and lose, the most in one postseason. Kershaw had two such losses last postseason; only John Smoltz and Randy Johnson (four each) have had more in a career.
In Game 2, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Greinke combined for 17 more strikeouts. Add the bullpens, and the first two games between the Mets and Dodgers saw 50 strikeouts, easily setting a record for any series' first two games. The Braves and Giants had 47 in their NLDS in 2010, and one of those games went to extra innings. Syndergaard also had a nine-strikeout game in the NLCS, joining Al Leiter, Dwight Gooden and Tom Seaver as Mets pitchers to do it twice in one postseason.
Game 3 between the Cubs and Cardinals was less notable for its 23 strikeouts than for its eight home runs, including dingers by six Cubs players. That was a postseason first, and they became the third team in the live-ball era whose top six players in the batting order homered. The Mets pulled it off in August, and the Giants did it at (of course) the Polo Grounds on July 11, 1954. Game 3 included the Cubs' first back-to-back postseason homers since Jody Davis and Leon Durham in 1984, and Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant became the youngest trio of teammates to homer in the same postseason.
One for the ages
Speaking of players young and old, Kolten Wong became the third player to hit a postseason home run on his birthday, joining Evan Longoria (2013) and Willie Aikens (1980). Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Bautista didn't homer, but each did have RBIs on their birthdays, the first time three players have done that in the same postseason. In World Series Game 1, Jon Niese became the first player to pitch in a postseason game on his birthday since John Lackey in 2002.
LaTroy Hawkins became the oldest reliever to take a postseason loss. The player who scored the winning run, Rougned Odor, was 15 months old when Hawkins made his major league debut in 1995. Odor was the second-youngest player to score three runs in a postseason game behind a 19-year-old Andruw Jones in 1996.
Jones came up on another list when Michael Conforto homered twice in Game 4 of the World Series. At 22, Conforto was the third-youngest player with a multi-homer game in the World Series; between him and Jones sits 21-year-old Tony Kubek of the 1957 Yankees.
And of course, Raul A. Mondesi, 20, fresh from the Royals' Double-A team, pinch hit in Game 3, becoming the youngest American Leaguer in a World Series game since Claudell Washington in 1974. Mondesi is the first player to make his major league debut in the modern World Series; his only rival is James "Bug" Holliday, then an 18-year-old minor-leaguer, who went 0-for-4 in the exhibition "World's Series" between the NL's Chicago White Stockings (now the Cubs) and the St. Louis Browns, then of the American Association, in 1885.
End at the beginning
Alcides Escobar and Curtis Granderson put on a show in their roles as leadoff hitters. Escobar, whose penchant for swinging at the first pitch became well-known this postseason, had seven total leadoff hits. Granderson had six. All other players had eight -- combined.
Escobar hit the first pitch the Royals saw in the World Series to left-center, where it glanced off Cespedes' leg and was scored an inside-the-park home run. There hadn't been one of those in the Fall Classic since the Athletics' George "Mule" Haas rounded the bases at Shibe Park on Oct. 12, 1929. And the only other one to start a game was in the very first modern World Series. Patsy Dougherty of the Boston AL club hit it (also on the first pitch, according to contemporaneous reports) on Oct. 2, 1903.
Escobar's hit was the Royals' first leadoff inside-the-park home run in any game since Willie Wilson on May 13, 1984. Escobar also had the Royals' first leadoff triple in a postseason game since George Brett in 1978.
Granderson led the majors with seven leadoff home runs during the regular season; his leadoff homer in Game 5 was the Mets' first in a World Series since Lenny Dykstra in 1986 and the first for any team facing elimination since Davey Lopes of the Dodgers in 1978. Alas, it wasn't enough; the Royals' five-run 12th inning set a World Series record for an extra frame, taking that honor from ... the Mets, who had a four-run 12th against Oakland in 1973.
More postseason Kernels
Jason Hammel, Lackey, Kershaw: First time in designated-hitter era that three pitchers had postseason hits on the same day (Oct. 13). Last occurrence was Oct. 3, 1970.
Kyle Hendricks and Hammel: First starting pitchers to bat eighth in a postseason game. Babe Ruth did bat sixth (and had a two-run triple) in Game 4 of the 1918 World Series.
Ben Zobrist: Eight doubles in postseason, tying major league record shared by Albert Pujols and David Freese (2011). In ALCS Game 3, Zobrist had three doubles and three runs scored, the first player to do that in a postseason loss.
Eric Hosmer: First player with the game-winning RBI in Games 1 and 2 of same World Series since Mark Bellhorn for the 2004 Red Sox.