5 reasons Mets can escape 0-2 World Series hole
KANSAS CITY -- Over and over in Game 2 of the World Series, Jacob deGrom would get a Royals hitter into a two-strike count, but he couldn't put him away. Then something bad would happen for deGrom and the Mets.
"You're sitting there saying, 'He's going to get out of this; this is where he's going to put this guy away,'" manager Terry Collins said. "But he didn't. We win because we ride our starting pitching. When they struggle, we're going to struggle, and that's what's happened."
Following the 14-inning, 5-4 loss in the Game 1 marathon, the last thing the Mets needed was a 7-1 drubbing like the Royals gave them on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium. They managed two hits against Johnny Cueto and saw Kansas City twice walk Daniel Murphy, seemingly saying that they don't think the rest of New York's lineup can hurt them.
Collins knows why they'd think that.
"When we play good, our lineup produces throughout," said the Mets' manager. "It just shows you right now with us not hitting how big Dan Murphy really was in the [National League Championship Series] with the home runs. We've got to pick it up offensively."
David Wright, for one, believes they will.
"We know we're a good team," Wright said. "We're playing in the World Series. We don't need to be reminded that we're a good team. You've just got to look on your shoulder and see that patch. That should give you all the confidence that you need. You can't have a short memory. We just beat an excellent Cub team four games in a row."
He's right. These are the same Mets who outscored the Cubs, 21-7, in the NLCS sweep. They haven't lost their passion or their pulse, as they will try to show when the Series resumes Friday night at Citi Field in Queens (7:30 p.m. ET airtime on FOX, game time 8 p.m.).
Here are five reasons they could join the 1986 Mets -- who came back from an 0-2 deficit -- and become the first team since the 1996 Yankees to escape an 0-2 hole in the World Series:
1. Timely change of venue
Not only do the Mets get home-field advantage for the next three games, but the Royals will have to field a lineup without Kendrys Morales, their switch-hitting designated hitter who hit 22 home runs and drove in 106 runs this season. History says this is a huge advantage.
In the past nine World Series, American League teams have gone 8-17 in NL parks. The 2006 Tigers, '08 Rays, '10 Rangers and '12 Tigers failed to win a game on NL soil.
The Mets are 52-33 at home this season, including a 3-1 record in the postseason. They beat Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta in back-to-back games there in the NLCS.
"Hopefully we can use that home-field advantage to our advantage, go take care of business at home for sure," Wright said. "These guys are playing excellent baseball. We know it's going to be a challenge. They took care of their home field; we need to take care of ours."
2. One more ace in the deck
Most teams would be out of aces after playing the deGrom and Matt Harvey cards early in the series. But rookie right-hander Noah Syndergaard -- a Texan who was raised on the legend of guys like Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens and Josh Beckett -- is lined up to face Kansas City's Yordano Ventura in Game 3.
The Cubs felt Syndergaard would be vulnerable his last time out. He had pitched an inning of relief only three days earlier to help win the deciding Game 5 against the Dodgers, but he was sharp throughout a 5 2/3-inning stint in Game 2 of the NLCS, striking out nine and walking one. Syndergaard was studying the Royals' hitters intently during the first two games and could have a gem in him for Game 3.
"He believes he belongs here," Collins said. "And that speaks volumes. When you've got that kind of stuff and you're not afraid to throw it, and you're not afraid to give up a hit because you think you can get the next guy out, you can get dangerous. Noah just got better and better and better as the season went along, with the confidence he had that he could be successful here."
Wright says the Mets can't wait to play behind the long-haired Texan again.
"He's throwing the ball about as well as anybody possibly can," Wright said. "When you have that type of stuff and the way he's been locating, he's going to be tough. We have a ton of confidence in him."
3. The price you pay
The Royals are sticking with Chris Young to start Game 4 on Saturday night, and you can't blame them. But in working three hitless innings of relief to be the winning pitcher in Game 1, he faced all the Mets' hitters.
Working with hitting coaches Kevin Long and Pat Roessler, look for New York to make adjustments that will prove fruitful. One of the reasons that Young is tough to hit is he stands 6-foot-10, but the Mets have seen that arm angle now. Like the Yankees and Cardinals earlier this season, it won't be a surprise if they have more success the second time around against Young.
4. Murph's still alive and swinging
No, Murphy hasn't hit any home runs in the World Series, but he hasn't lost the swing that produced seven in the Mets' first nine postseason games. Give the Royals credit for pitching him more carefully than did the Cubs (he had only one walk in his first 10 postseason games, but Cueto walked him twice in Game 2), but don't discount the chance that he'll go off again back at Citi Field.
While a pair of two-strikeout games at Kauffman Stadium is a bad sign, Murphy is still boasting a slash line of .383/.420/.872 in the postseason. You'd like your chances in any fight with this guy on your side.
"If they execute, it's always going to be a tough at-bat," Murphy said. "They've executed well, but we've gotten some pitches to hit. I've gotten some pitches to hit that I've missed. We'll go home, regroup on the off-day and get ready for Game 3."
5. The trump card
Juan Uribe hasn't gotten off the Mets' bench yet. Look for that to change at some point under NL rules in New York.
Acquired from the Braves in late July, the 36-year-old utility man played a significant role in the Mets' playoff run before injuring his upper body diving for a ball on Sept. 20. Uribe hasn't played for a month, but Collins has a hunch he's got some magic in him.
"I can walk through the locker room [and] I can't find anybody that's got two World Series rings, except him," Collins said about adding Uribe to the World Series roster. "He brings that guy who's been on this stage and has not been affected by it. ... I know when he walks up there, he has a feel for what he has to do to get a hit."
Uribe presents a pattern that's impossible to ignore. He played shortstop on the 2005 White Sox, and they won the World Series; he was on the 2010 Giants, and they won the World Series. Now Uribe is back here with the 2015 Mets.
Sound flimsy? Well, when you're down 0-2, you'll take any good karma you can get.