A relatively drama-free game tonight. No blackouts, no pouring rain (though rain was certainly a part of the game), no extra innings, no monster home runs, just some pretty nifty and pretty not-so-nifty pitching.
World Series Game 2 — Mets at Royals
Honestly, I was feeling great about the match-up between the two pitchers, two aces from each of these leading teams. And I was right about that, right up until the 5th inning. Both starters kept it very tight and close, making it feel like an easily anticipated postseason game. But then it shifted and by the end of the 5th inning, it felt more like a plain old regular season game. Sure, it was cold and rainy again in Kansas City, which can’t make playing a game any easier. But somehow the Royals made it look rather easy.
For his first 4 innings, Mets starter deGrom held the Royals off to just 1 hit and 2 walks, getting them to hit into ground balls and pop outs to plow through them in just a handful of pitches. But, like I said, his 5th inning was just off for the rookie starter, who made a name for himself in Queens for both his flowing mane and for being one of those pitchers batters didn’t want to face. His last inning certainly sealed the deal for the Mets’ outcome tonight — a lead-off walk, a single, an RBI single, a ground out that moved runners to scoring position, a line out (hope for the Mets!), a 2-RBI single, another single put runners on the corners, one more RBI single, and a ground out to end the inning and deGrom’s night (pushing him up to a whopping 94 pitches through just those 5 innings).
Mets relievers seemed to be a bit of a mixed bag for the rest of the night. The 6th and 7th innings were near-flawless, but the 8th inning started that off-centered feel again for the Mets. A single, a double, and an RBI double with no outs, and the reliever was on his way to the dugout. A new reliever gave up a sacrifice fly and a triple to score 2 more runs for the Royals this inning before a final reliever eliminated any chances for further run-scoring (in just 4 very effective pitches, by the way).
Now on the other side of things, today’s game belonged solely to Royals starter Cueto, who threw a complete game for the Royals. The well-built, chatty pitcher reminds me of early Sabathia in many ways — in physique, his extroverted tendencies, his pitching quirks, his strong command of the game, and his tenacity and determination and fierce competitive edge. He gave up just 1 run to the Mets the entire night in the 4th inning — 2 runners on base with 2 outs, a single (one of only 2 he’d allow all night) scored the Mets’ lone run. Command doesn’t really sum it up. 122 pitches in 9 inning, sharp and on-point all night. The Mets’ couldn’t seem to find his pattern and beat him tonight.
So after just under 3 hours (see, a regular season feel to it), it was clearly Cueto’s team to come out ahead.
Final score in Kansas City: 7-1 Royals, Royals lead series 2-0.
The Series heads to New York now, and the Mets love being home in front of their rabid fans (almost as much as the Royals and their fans do at Kauffman Stadium). So it will be interesting to see how this turns out once the games are in Queens.
And we have Yankee Universe News! (I know you’ve been missing this almost as much as I have!) Before today’s game, MLB honored Yankee closer Andrew Miller with the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award. He and his wife and child were on hand to accept the award from Rivera himself before the game. The NL Award, named for another great closer Trevor Hoffman, was presented to Pirates’ reliever Mark Melancon. The MLB commissioner named said awards in honor of the first and second greatest closers in MLB history, who were on hand to present their respective awards to the 2015 recipients.
Miller rightly deserves this honor (which you’ll know if you’ve followed this blog at all this season), with his 36 of 38 save opportunities (an AL best in percentage), 100 strikeouts (an average of 14.59 strikeouts per 9 innings, by the way), 0.86 WHIP, 2.04 ERA, and an opposing batting average of .151. Actually, the Yankee bullpen set records all over the place this year — Miller and Betances (the “Dynamic Duo”) set a franchise record for both having 100 strikeouts in a season, and the bullpen got a total of 596 strikeouts (a MLB record). It’s one of the many reasons the Yankees played October baseball this year.