Players in the Postseason: #WinorGoHome #ItsBlackandWhite (Oct. 19)
Updated: Oct. 19
This player comes from an athletic family -- his dad played basketball at the University of Iowa and his brother played football at a junior college. Early on he had trouble seeing balls at night because he wore glasses, and the light reflected off all of the scratches. He wound up getting Lasik surgery, so he no longer needs to wear glasses. He has a fear of alligators, however, he knows how to escape one if confronted.
"You got to run in zig-zags. They can only see straight ahead, so zig-zags really mess them up."
Who is he?
The Royals Want No. 3
Johnny Cueto, coming off a dominating performance in the Royals' deciding ALDS Game 5 victory over the Astros, now has the opportunity to help put the Royals ahead 3-0 in the ALCS when they meet the Blue Jays in Toronto for Game 3 at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.
Acquired at the trade deadline from Cincinnati for three top prospects, the Dominican right-hander had delivered just a 4.76 ERA over 13 starts with the Royals and struggled in his first ALDS start, as well. But in the win-or-go-home Game 5, the dreadlocked, 29-year-old Dominican allowed just two hits over eight innings and retired the final 19 batters he faced. He'll try to ride that wave of confidence in ALCS Game 3.
"Game 5 was a decisive game," Cueto said, with catching coach Pedro Grifol serving as his translator during a press conference at the Rogers Centre. "You win, you keep going. You lose, you go home. And my mentality was I'm going to give everything I've got as long as I can. And this game is very similar."
The Blue Jays have found themselves in more precarious positions this postseason than being down 2-0 in a seven-game series. They were down 2-0 in their five-game division series with the Rangers -- and on their way to Texas -- before storming back to win the final three games.
"We've played from down before," second baseman Ryan Goins said. "Playing behind in a five-game series is different than playing in a seven-game series. We still have life -- more life than we had last time."
The club also has extreme confidence in Monday's starter, Marcus Stroman, whose unflappable demeanor has been on full display this postseason, including in the Blue Jays' ALDS Game 5 win over Texas.
"The bigger the crowd, the bigger the moment," Stroman said. "I feel like I'm able to put myself in a position that I excel better. I don't know if that's the nature of how I was raised (but) I feel like pressure situations don't necessarily faze me. They excite me more. And they make me pitch better and they bring out the best in me."
Murphy is Money
Daniel Murphy is hitting his way into a place in New York Mets history. The 30-year-old second baseman hit his fifth homer of the postseason in the first inning of Game 2, reaching down to hook around the right-field foul pole a curveball off Cy Young Award candidate Jake Arrieta. In seven postseason games, Murphy now has 10 hits in 28 at-bats (.357) and eight RBIs with a 1.307 OPS.
In addition to the NLCS Game 2 homer off Arietta, Murphy's home runs have come off All-Stars Clayton Kershaw (twice), Zack Greinke and Jon Lester. Murphy doesn't really know how to explain it, although he's been asked constantly.
"If I knew what I was doing, I would have hit more homers during the regular season," he said.
The Wright Time
David Wright, who reportedly offered to pull himself from the Mets lineup during a pregame meeting with manager Terry Collins, picked a good moment to break out of his slump. The veteran third baseman came in batting just .053 (1-for-19) with eight strikeouts and six walks through six games in this postseason, but he smoked a first-inning double to center to bring in Curtis Granderson with the Mets' first run in their NLCS Game 2 victory.
"It felt nice," said Wright, who went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. "I've said all along I've had some poor at-bats and some good at-bats where you have nothing to show for it. But through all of it, you try to grind it out and you try to do some other things, if you're not swinging the bat that well."
The Lightning Bolt
The youngest of the Mets' power-pitching trio, 23-year-old Noah Syndergaard shook off the windy, 45-degree cold at Citi Field and a one-inning relief performance just two days earlier to stifle the Cubs over 5 2/3 innings in Game 2 on Sunday night. The tall, imposing right-hander with long blonde hair allowed just one run and three hits, walking one and striking out nine. He mixed a 98 mph fastball with a curveball and the changeup he's using more and more often.
"I feel like I battled the elements pretty well out there," he said. "It was a little cold, but I was able to stay loose in between innings and stay warm. I wish I would have gotten ahead of hitters a little bit more, but I was able to get out of some jams with my secondary pitches, as well."
The Ball Joey Bats Hit
The fan who latched on to the historic home run ball Jose Bautista hit into the left-field stands in the Blue Jays' ALDS Game 5 win wants to return the ball to the slugger. In an interview on CBC Toronto's "Metro Morning" show, Jeff Byma said he grabbed the home run ball as it bounced around the floor of Section 138.
Byma said he'd be happy just to meet Bautista and hand him the ball, but he added, "Let's be realistic. If they offer me something, I'll take it, but I'm not going to go in there demanding anything."
He sent this message out on Twitter, asking Jose if he's interested in acquiring the ball.
The Players on Social Media
Want to catch up with what Major League players were doing and saying on social media over the weekend? We have it all right here for you in our "In Case You Missed It, Monday" feature or #ICYMIM.
The Trivia Answer
Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals
Follow us @MLB_Players and to catch our postseason social media series, titled #WinOrGoHome #ItsBlackandWhite, featuring some up-close photos courtesy of Getty Sports.