Resilient Mets are down, but far from out
KANSAS CITY -- It's worth noting this is the team that watched Wilmer Flores cry.
The Mets are the group that survived a gut-punch from the Padres just before the Trade Deadline, that rallied time and again against the Nationals, that beat Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Jake Arrieta in the postseason and that otherwise, in nearly every situation that might have bedeviled them, found a way to survive. To thrive. So now that they are losing the World Series, 2-0, following a 7-1 Game 2 defeat to the Royals, they have little choice but to draw upon their deepest reserves of been-there-done-that chutzpah.
"By no means are we done," first baseman Lucas Duda said. "We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole here. But we're used to it. We're used to coming back and fighting back."
The visiting clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium late Wednesday may have been mostly quiet, but those who spoke did so with conviction. Consider: In the World Series, teams that have taken a 2-0 lead have gone on to win 79.2 percent of the time. Teams that have led any best-of-seven series 2-0 have won 83.3 percent of them. But of the 13 clubs that have come from behind, 10 did so at home after suffering their 2-0 deficits on the road.
"We've just got to focus on Friday's game," third baseman David Wright said. "We can't think about the hole that we're in. We've just got to concentrate on winning. It'll be nice to get to our house and our park. I'm sure the fans are going to be going crazy."
Call it a ray of hope spilling forth from the 7 Train windows. Beginning Friday in Game 3 (7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX, 8 p.m. game time), the Mets will be back at Citi Field, where they posted a .605 winning percentage this season. The Mets are 3-1 there during the playoffs -- and those were just the preliminaries. This will be the first World Series game ever at Citi Field, with Noah Syndergaard pitching on the eve of Halloween. The place will be electrically charged.
"This is why we pitched for home-field advantage so hard," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "We've got to take care of business here at home. We know we're going to head into a tough environment over there in New York. It was important for us to take these two."
How the Royals won Games 1 and 2 in Kansas City seemed nearly as vexing to the Mets as the outcomes themselves. Facing first Matt Harvey and then Jacob deGrom, the Royals continually put balls in play, beating the National League's reigning Rookie of the Year on Wednesday with a four-run, five-hit barrage in the fifth. A pitcher who generated 24 swings and misses in his first playoff start mustered merely three against the Royals. And while manager Terry Collins chided deGrom for throwing a few too many strikes, he and every other Met spent most of their time praising their opponents.
"Look, the Royals have a good team," Collins said. "We've got to make better pitches and we've got to play better."
That means hitting -- the Mets finished 2-for-28 against Johnny Cueto in Game 2 -- as well as pitching. But the Mets feel they at least have that last part covered, considering their 3.18 regular-season ERA at Citi Field compared to 3.69 on the road. Syndergaard in particular has been dynamic in Flushing, holding opposing hitters there to a .196 average. In his lone playoff start at Citi Field, he struck out nine over 5 1/3 innings.
The Mets have plenty of confidence in him. So when asked what else they need to do going forward, deGrom replied simply: "To win."
"That's the mentality going into every game," he said. "We have to win four. We're going home. We play well at home, and hopefully we win those three there."