Lagares in for Mets; no changes for Royals
KANSAS CITY -- The Mets and Royals will try to produce a memorable encore to an unforgettable epic on Wednesday as the World Series continues with Game 2. Neither club will be especially well-rested after Tuesday's tilt of five hours, nine minutes and 417 pitches -- which Kansas City won, 5-4, in 14 innings -- and both teams will look to keep the ball away from their bullpen for as long as possible. The Royals lead the best-of-seven Fall Classic, 1-0.
Royals right-hander Johnny Cueto and Mets righty Jacob deGrom will comprise the pitching matchup at Kauffman Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX, 8 p.m. game time), with Cueto looking to rebound from allowing eight runs -- a club record for the postseason -- in just two innings on Oct. 19 in his most recent start, losing Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.
"We definitely know how to find our way into some crazy games, and we know how to make it exciting, that's for sure," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said.
deGrom already created a news ripple during this Series by announcing that he intends to shear his long locks after the Fall Classic ends. The Mets will personally deliver the clippers if deGrom can baffle the Royals' lineup, stealing another win on the road and becoming the first pitcher to win four starts away from home in a single postseason.
The team that has won Game 1 in the World Series has gone on to take the Fall Classic in 23 of the past 27 instances. Of the previous 62 teams to win Game 1 of the World Series at home, 35 (56.5 percent) have also won Game 2, including eight of the past 10. Of the 35 to win Game 2, 28 (80 percent) have gone on to win the title.
For love of glove
The most significant change in the Mets' lineup comes in center field, where 2014 Gold Glove Award winner Juan Lagares will roam. Yoenis Cespedes, who started in center on Tuesday and made a critical misplay on Alcides Escobar's leadoff inside-the-park home run, will move to left field.
Rookie Michael Conforto, who played left field in Game 1, will serve as the Mets' designated hitter in the AL ballpark. Kelly Johnson was the DH for manager Terry Collins and the Mets on Tuesday, going 0-for-1.
Lagares hit .281 in his Gold Glove Award-winning season last year, but his average dropped to .259 in 143 games this season. He came in as a defensive replacement Tuesday night and went 2-for-3 with a run and a strikeout off the vaunted Kansas City bullpen. Lagares has been swinging a hot bat this October, hitting .438/.471/.563 with six runs scored and two steals in 18 postseason plate appearances.
"When I get those opportunities where I can kind of try to show my stuff, I don't take them for granted," Lagares said. "I know what an opportunity it is to show what I've got, so they know that I'm ready to go."
The right-handed-hitting Lagares playing over the left-handed-hitting Johnson could also be explained by Cueto's reverse splits -- the right-hander holds lefties to a .672 OPS, versus a .692 OPS for right-handed batters.
Daniel Murphy is 3-for-17 lifetime against Cueto, and Lucas Duda is 3-for-15 with 10 strikeouts.
1. Curtis Granderson, RF
2. David Wright, 3B
3. Murphy, 2B
4. Cespedes, LF
5. Duda, 1B
6. Travis d'Arnaud, C
7. Conforto, DH
8. Wilmer Flores, SS
9. Lagares, CF
They've got the power
Surprise! Royals manager Ned Yost once again penciled in the same lineup that he has used for each of Kansas City's postseason games to this point, seeing no reason to tinker with the formula that has his club three victories away from a World Series title.
deGrom presents a near-unknown for the Royals' lineup -- only backup catcher Drew Butera has any history against the right-hander. It will be interesting to see if deGrom follows the lead set by Matt Harvey in Game 1, relying more heavily on his offspeed pitches to handle the fastball-hungry Kansas City lineup.
Kansas City's 68 runs this postseason are one shy of matching the single-postseason franchise record set last year with 69 runs in 15 games. The Royals have homered in 11 of their 12 games this postseason and are averaging one homer every 24.4 at-bats this postseason (40.1 AB/HR in reg. season).
1. Escobar, SS
2. Ben Zobrist, 2B
3. Lorenzo Cain, CF
4. Hosmer, 1B
5. Kendrys Morales, DH
6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
7. Salvador Perez, C
8. Gordon, LF
9. Alex Rios, RF