Johnny Cueto has been the ultimate boom-or-bust pitcher this postseason, and because he was in “boom” mode last night, the Kansas City Royals rolled to a 7-1 win over the New York Mets and took complete command of the World Series with a 2-0 lead in games.
Consider Cueto’s last three starts. He threw a complete-game gem against the Houston Astros in the decisive Game 5 of the Division Series. Then he was lit up by the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 3 of the ALCS. Last night, Johnny was locked on again, with a complete-game two-hitter. If the Royals go on to the win this Series, as it now appears highly likely they will, the two-month rental of Cueto has been proven worth the price.
Jacob de Grom had been in boom mode the whole postseason for the Mets and for four innings it looked like more of the same, as he held to a 1-0 lead. Even in the fifth, when the Royals began to hit him, it looked like de Grom might escape with the score tied 1-1. There were two outs and runners on second and third.
It was the kind of out de Grom consistently got in Game 5 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series. But that was against a team that’s not known for its clutch play. This time was different. Eric Hosmer, fresh off his game-winning sacrifice fly, hit a two-run single. Two more singles added another run and with Cueto locked in, the game was all but over.
If the Mets are going to rally and win this series, they’ll realistically need to win all three in Citi Field and then get another shot at a Cueto-de Grom rematch in Game 6. I don’t see Kansas City losing a second straight Game 7 on the road, unless Madison Bumgarner appears in a Mets jersey sometime in the next week.
That means it’s reasonably safe to start looking at early leaders for World Series MVP in the Kansas City dugout. Hosmer, with his big RBIs on consecutive nights is one possibility. Mike Moustakas is hitting .444 for the Series and made the defensive play on Game 1 when he robbed Wilmer Flores of an RBI double. Alcides Escobar had the inside-the-park home run to start the opener and delivered the game-tying hit last night in the fifth.
I know Royals fans, having waited thirty years, don’t want to jump the gun. But as one who picked the Mets, and is still rooting for them, this one looks pretty bleak right now.