As the World Series shifts to New York after the Royals took both games at home to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the 2015 World Series, the mood in the Mets clubhouse is much different than it was just a week ago. After a Game 2 effort that included but 2 weak hits whose combined speed wouldn’t warrant a speeding ticket, they now know just why the Royals dealt 3 left handed pitching prospects to the Reds for Johnny Cueto and what makes him so dominant. Cueto’s complete game, 2 hit effort featured just 4 strikeouts and 3 walks on 122 pitches; only 70 of which were strikes.
What do these numbers mean? They mean that Cueto was excellent, but not his normal dominant self. In fact, he was in some trouble in the middle sections of the game, in which he allowed his lone run of the evening on a cue-shot single by Lucas Duda in the top of the 4th that scored Daniel Murphy. This was immediately followed by 1-2-3 innings in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, showing the mindset Cueto locked himself into while feeding off of the raucous 41,000+ fans in attendance. After asking manager Ned Yost for permission to pitch the final inning, Cueto became the first Dominican born pitcher to toss a complete game in the World Series, and the first player in general to accomplish the feat with 2 or less runs allowed since Greg Maddux in 1995. When you find your name mentioned alongside that of Maddux, you know you’re in some historic company.
When the series returns to Citi Field, the Mets must do one thing better and one thing only: HIT THE BALL. The pitching will be back to its normal, dominant self, with Noah Syndergaard toeing the rubber (and we all know what he usually does), but offense must be of paramount importance. After an 11 hit performance in Game 1, the Mets’ bats went quiet. With Yordano Ventura throwing for the opposition, the Mets hitters have to find a way to make Ventura throw extra pitches by employing the Royals strategy for Game 2; fouling off pitches as a strategy. They fouled off 24 of Jacob deGrom’s 95 pitches, forcing him to exit early. The backside of the Royals bullpen is their obvious strength, so Terry Collins’ club has to try and attack Ventura and get to the bullpen as early as possible in Game 3.