As the World Series approaches, the Mets are getting set to face the Kansas City Royals in Game 1 at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals' home since 1973. Due to the nature of interleague play, the Mets have only made one trip to The K in the history of their franchise. It came in June 2004, and it featured two very bad baseball teams.
Game 1: June 11, 2004
Coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Minnesota Twins, the downtrodden Mets (28-31) continued their stretch of Interleague play, as they went to Kansas City for three against the lowly Royals (21-36). The first game of the series pitted Jae Weong Seo against Darrell May–a battle of two struggling starters. Gerald Williams hit a leadoff double to start the game, and Cliff Floyd drove him in two batters later. In the bottom of the third, Mets legend Carlos Beltran hit a single and later scored on a double by Mike Sweeney. Ken Harvey made it a 3-1 Royals lead with a home run later in the frame. Seo was taken out of the game in the fourth, as Dan Wheeler replaced him. The reliever promptly gave up a two-run double to Benito Santiago to extend Kansas City's lead to 7-2. The Mets would add three more runs over the next few innings, but it wasn't enough to surmount the large Royals lead.
Final score: Royals 7, Mets 5
Game 2: June 12, 2004
The second game of the series saw Al Leiter square off against Chris George. Once again, the Mets took an early lead, as Mike Piazza drew a walk with the bases loaded. The Mets eked out one more run off George, who walked six batters in his six innings of work. Leiter was cruising until the fifth, when Angel Berroa hit a two-run homer against his future team. David Weathers came in for Leiter in the bottom of the eighth, and he proceeded to issue a two-out walk to Beltran, who then stole second and scored on a Mike Sweeney single. Future three-time world champion Jeremy Affeldt came in for the save. Mike Cameron reached base on a one-out single, and pinch-hitter Todd Zeile drove him in with a double, tying the game at 3-3. Mets manager Art Howe left Weathers in for the ninth, and he immediately gave up a single to Joe Randa. After Kelly Stinnett sacrificed Randa to second, Berroa came up and delievered a walk-off single.
Final score: Royals 4, Mets 3
Game 3: June 13, 2004
The series finale featured an incredible pitching matchup: 20-year-old Zack Greinke against his boyhood idol, Tom Glavine. Greinke, coming off seven shutout innings against the Montreal Expos, cruised until the fourth, when Mike Piazza hit a two-run homer. Eric Valent made it a 3-0 game in the fifth, flustering the Royals' rookie starter. In the top of the seventh, Cameron and Jason Phillips tagged the righty for two runs, extending the Mets lead to 5-0. In the bottom of the frame, Zeile made a throwing error, leading to an unearned run for Kansas City. Glavine, clad in a throwback uniform, made it to the bottom of the eighth unscathed, but he was knocked out of the game by a run-scoring double by Harvey. Ricky Bottaclio struck out Randa to end the eighth. Braden Looper came in for the save in the ninth, and he recorded a perfect inning. Mets salvage the final game of this Interleague series.
Final score: Mets 5, Royals 2
This series represented bad times in the histories of both franchises. The Mets went on to finish with 70 wins–the Royals with 58. Howe was fired after the season, and Willie Randolph took his place. Beltran, after getting traded to the Houston Astros and going on a historic postseason run, would join the Mets in the offseason. Now, 11 years later, the two teams will be facing each other in the World Series.