World Series Game 2: How key moments impact the rest of the Series
On a night when the New York Mets had the "deGrominator" -- ace starting pitcher Jacob deGrom -- on the mound, it was the Kansas City Royals and Johnny Cueto who instead dominated Game 2 of the 2015 World Series with a 7-1 win on Wednesday.
The Royals lead the Series two games to none, with the scene shifting to Citi Field in Flushing, Queens on Friday evening. Let's delve inside some key moments from Game 2, and look ahead to what they mean for each team going forward.
Momentum is only as good as your next starting pitcher
This age-old adage seemed to bode well for the Mets prior to Game 2, even after their crushing loss in Game 1. Cueto was awful in his only start of the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, and deGrom was undefeated this postseason prior to Wednesday night. Yet after pitching three hitless innings to begin the game, deGrom ran out of gas. Meanwhile, Cueto returned to the form that saw him win the clinching game of the AL Division Series against the Houston Astros.
Duda's shifty ways
In Game 1, the FOX broadcast team made it a point to highlight whenever the Mets scratched out a hit against Kansas City's shifted infield defense. First baseman Lucas Duda picked up on that strategy Wednesday, and notched the lone two New York hits off of Cueto. In his first at-bat, the pull-hitting lefty legged out an infield hit to the left side, where only Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas was stationed. He then tallied an RBI single in the fourth inning by blooping a ball between Moustakas and left fielder Alex Gordon. Many MLB teams have struggled to make waves against the more intricate defensive alignments of the past several years, and Duda's lesson could be valuable for some of the Mets' more one-dimensional hitters to learn.
Royals "keep the line moving" in the fifth
That's been the mantra for the AL champions all season long. In this era of the so-called three true outcomes (strikeout, walk, or home run), the Royals have bucked the game's offensive trend and thrived as skilled, situational contact hitters. Never was that more apparent than in the bottom of the fifth inning Wednesday, when deGrom was done in by a walk and five singles which produced four runs -- three of those singles, and the tiebreaking three runs, coming with two outs. It's tough for any pitching staff to stop, even one as dynamic as the Mets.
Cueto, the hired gun, starts slinging
This is why the Royals acquired Cueto from the Cincinnati Reds in July: because of his ability to take over a game before his opponent can blink. After Duda's run-scoring single in the fourth gave the Mets the lead, the animated right-hander retired 15 straight Mets while Kansas City racked up seven unanswered runs. Cueto finally allowed another baserunner in the ninth, but the game was already decided at that point. The Mets simply don't have the lineup depth to keep up if they go hitless for five innings.
A must-win on Friday (unless you like matching Sox)
Back to that momentum thing: New York will throw rookie Noah Syndergaard at home Friday night, and the Royals plan to counter with the talented but inconsistent Yordano Ventura. If the Mets lose, they'll trail the series three games to none. As almost all baseball fans are aware, only one team in MLB history has rallied to win a best-of-seven playoff series after going down 3-0: the 2004 Red Sox, who came back to beat the Yankees in a classic ALCS.
The Mets have now trailed 2-0 in each of the last three World Series they've played...including 1986, when they eventually took home the title.
Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's evening news anchor. He was born six months after the Mets last won the World Series. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and listen for his live reports Monday through Thursday nights between 6:30 and 11 p.m.