KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The New York Mets return to Citi Field in a major hole.
The Mets had hoped that by starting Matt Harvey and deGrom at Kauffman Stadium they would be able to capture at least one game on the road to open the Fall Classic. Instead, the series shifts to Queens with the Amazins in an 0-2 deficit.
Home teams that win the opening two games of a best-of-seven postseason series go on to prevail 80.8 percent of the time (42-10), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
After coaxing a bases-loaded groundout from Salvador Perez in the fourth, opposing batters dropped to 2-for-22 with runners in scoring position against deGrom this postseason. That stat got obliterated the following frame.
The Mets took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth. DeGrom then allowed four runs on five hits in a 35-pitch inning as manager Terry Collins stuck with him despite Jonathon Niese seemingly ready to enter. In deGrom’s three previous postseason starts, he had allowed six hits or fewer in each outing while going 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA.
In a 94-pitch effort, deGrom ultimately was charged with four runs on six hits and three walks in five innings while striking out two batters. DeGrom generated only three swings and misses the entire night.
Meanwhile, the Mets had a quiet night at the plate. Their lone run came on a two-out dunk single to left field by Lucas Duda in the fourth. The opportunity came after the Royals uncharacteristically failed to turn an inning-ending double play -- on a wide throw by third baseman Mike Moustakas to first base. Cueto stranded baserunners on the corners that inning by coaxing a flyout from Travis d'Arnaud. That began a streak of 15 straight batters retired by Cueto until a two-out walk in the ninth to Daniel Murphy.
The Mets produced only two hits against Cueto -- both by Duda, and both soft.
As for deGrom, one ex-Mets player speculated he may have been tipping pitches.
“I can’t figure it out yet, but they have something on deGrom out of the stretch,” the retired player indicated. “They better figure it out or they can’t win this series.”
Another ex-Met saw the first ex-player’s comment and added: “He must speed up on his heater and a tad slower with other stuff. But I think it's in his facial expressions -- seriously.”
Then again, deGrom more than likely was just off. Eric Hosmer's two-run single in the fifth came on a poorly executed slider.
In deGrom’s previous two outings, his final numbers were deceptively good despite erratic fastball command. That had led Collins to speculate that deGrom was hitting a wall at this point in the season.
Thumbs down: DH Michael Conforto went 0-for-3. He is hitless in his last 19 at-bats.