Johnny Cueto’s postseason form has oscillated between extremes. He shut down the Astros to take the Royals into the ALCS, giving up two runs in eight innings, then reversed those stats and gave up eight in two to the Blue Jays in his next start. The key difference was that Cueto’s dominant start, where he retired the last 19 batters, took place in Kansas City. Tonight he took the mound at home and laid the Mets down, tucked them in, and put them to sleep with a 122-pitch masterpiece.
The only Met to even get a hit off Cueto was Lucas Duda. Cueto became the first AL pitcher to toss a World Series complete game since Jack Morris went 10 innings in 1991 for the Twins to win Game 7. His two hits allowed are the fewest by an AL pitcher in a World Series complete game since 1967. Ned Yost’s decision to have him toss Game 2, to ensure he’d only pitch at home this series, looks really smart right now.
Coming into the game, you probably would’ve pegged the Royals to lose. Pitching against Cueto was fellow great hair-haver Jacob deGrom, the Mets’s ace, and he looked better than Cueto in the very early game. But where deGrom cracked and allowed the eventual Royals four-run inning, Cueto got stronger as the game progressed. This may have been because deGrom was tipping his pitches, possibly with his facial expression, while Cueto’s windup kept Mets’s hitters toothless all game long.
The lone run Cueto gave up came down to a fluke, as Eric Hosmer’s foot just slipped off first base, allowing Duda to come up again and single home Daniel Murphy (who has jacked no dongs this World Series). Wade Davis threw a quick bullpen session, but Cueto was never in need of relief.
The Royals offense, meanwhile, kept scoring the same way it has all year, with smart baserunning and a barrage of solid hitters. In the decisive fifth inning, Alcides Escobar tried to bunt twice, then at 0-2, singled home the icebreaker. It was a perfect Ned Yost at-bat.
The only non-Duda Met to trouble Cueto was Murphy, who achieved two walks and patiently forced Cueto to throw 22 pitches. But even Murphy struck out twice. That’s how good Cueto was: two walks and two strikeouts was a great achievement.
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