Throw Johnny throw: KC, Cueto thump Mets
KANSAS CITY -- Now that's the Johnny Cueto who Royals fans have come to love, at least the one who pitches like an unhittable demon at Kauffman Stadium.
Cueto certainly was Johnny B. Goode, two-hitting the Mets over nine innings as the Royals roared to a 7-1 win on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series. His complete game was the first by an American League pitcher in the Fall Classic since Jack Morris went 10 innings for the Twins in Game 7 in 1991, and the first by a Royal in the World Series since Bret Saberhagen in Game 7 in '85.
Much like Cueto overwhelmed the Astros at Kauffman Stadium in Game 5 of the AL Division Series, when he retired the last 19 batters he faced, the right-hander dominated the Mets while retiring 16 of the last 17.
"I want to thank God for this opportunity and this outcome," said Cueto, the first pitcher from the Dominican Republic to throw a complete game in the World Series. "And it's a lot of pride being able to do what I did out there today and to do it for all of the Dominican."
"Tonight was everything we expected Johnny to be," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He was on the attack. He kept the ball down. He changed speeds. It was just a spectacular performance by him."
Cueto gave up two softly hit singles to Lucas Duda while going the distance, walking three and striking out four. Kansas City is just two wins from its first World Series title in 30 years.
"He's been good here at home, but you could tell he was locked in those first couple innings," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said of Cueto. "When he was missing spots, he wasn't out over over the plate. It was either a hair off in or out. He was electric tonight."
Hosmer, who won Tuesday's 14-inning Game 1 showdown with a sacrifice fly, again delivered the knockout punch, a two-run single in the fifth that put the Royals up for good at 3-1. Red-hot Alcides Escobar, who had an inside-the-park-homer in Game 1, had two more hits, including an RBI triple.
"He wasn't going to go back out there in the ninth until we got three runs in the eighth," said Yost of Cueto. "We were glad we put up those runs so he could back and finish the job."
The Series now shifts to New York for three games starting Friday (7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX, 8 p.m. game time). Teams up 2-0 in the World Series have gone on to win it 42 of 53 times (79.2 percent). Teams that have won the first two games of a World Series at home have gone on to win 31 of 38 times (81.6 percent). Of the 13 teams (20.8 percent) that overcame a 2-0 deficit to win the Series, 10 lost Games 1 and 2 on the road.
"We know it's going to be loud in New York," Royals outfielder Alex Rios said. "But it was loud in Toronto, and it was loud in Houston. It's going to be loud no matter where we go."
Jacob deGrom started for the Mets and breezed through three no-hit innings. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, but got hit around in Kansas City's four-run fifth. The right-hander exited after five innings having given up four runs on six hits while walking three and striking out two.
"They did exactly what people said, and they put the ball in play," Mets manager Terry Collins said of the Royals, who finished with 10 hits. "I told Jake, 'Not everything has to be a strike. You've got to move it around. You've got to change speeds, give them something to look at. If you continue to pound the strike zone, they're going to put it in play.' And that's what they did."
"He's a great pitcher," Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas said of deGrom. "We're putting the ball in play all night and just weren't catching any breaks. We kept battling throughout the game, and then caught a break."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hoz an RBI machine: In Game 1, Hosmer set the Royals' record for all-time postseason RBIs with 25 after he hit two sacrifice flies to break George Brett's record of 23. And Hosmer wasn't finished. On Wednesday, he delivered the big blow, a two-run single in Kansas City's four-run fifth inning. Hosmer took a two-seam fastball from deGrom and raked it right back up the middle. That gave the Royals a 3-1 lead.
"He's just really focused right now," Moustakas said. "He's in a groove. A lot of guys are."
More Moose magic: Moustakas had a game-tying RBI single in Game 1, and he was also right back at it on Wednesday. The third baseman slammed an RBI single to right-center, scoring Hosmer to make it 4-1 in the fifth. Moustakas has RBIs in six games this postseason.
Letting him hit: The game was tied at 1 when Collins opted to let deGrom pitch to Hosmer with two outs in the fifth, despite an open base at first. Kansas City's first baseman responded with his game-breaking hit off deGrom, who generated just three swings and misses all night. He threw 35 of his 94 pitches in the fifth inning.
Royals outfielder Alex Gordon didn't disagree with the decision.
"He's been terrific all year for them," Gordon said. "He's got great stuff. His stuff wasn't any worse."
Mets take advantage early: With one out in the fourth inning, Yoenis Cespedes hit a bouncer to third base, where Moustakas attempted to convert it into an inning-ending double play. But his throw pulled Hosmer off the bag, allowing Duda to bat with two men on base. Duda proceeded to make Moustakas pay, poking an RBI single the other way for a 1-0 lead for New York.
Mets: An off-day Thursday awaits the Mets, who will send 23-year-old rookie Noah Syndergaard to the mound Friday for Game 3. Citi Field will also host Games 4 and 5, and the Mets expect sellout crowds all weekend for the first World Series games in the ballpark's history.
Royals: Yordano Ventura takes the hill in Game 3 for Kansas City. In four starts in the postseason, the right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.09 ERA. But the 24-year-old was terrific in his last start, Game 6 of the AL Championship Series. Ventura gave up just one run and struck out five in 5 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays.