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Baseball Daily Dose

Daily Dose: Cueto's Republic

by Bill Baer
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Follow @Baer_Bill and @Rotoworld_BB on Twitter.

Mets starter Jacob deGrom had no problem getting to two strikes against the Royals in his Game 2 start at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. It was putting Royals hitters away that led the right-hander into difficulty. He lasted only five innings and recorded just two strikeouts. That’s not just a low for deGrom’s post-season but his lowest strikeout total since striking out two Cubs in 5 1/3 innings on July 2 earlier this year.


Still, the Royals didn’t get to deGrom until the fifth inning. The Mets were leading 1-0 thanks to Lucas Duda’s RBI single to left field in the fourth. Alex Gordon – the hero of Game 1 – drew a leadoff walk, and Alex Rios and Alcides Escobar followed with consecutive singles to tie the game at 1-1. deGrom appeared to be working his way out of trouble, getting Ben Zobrist to ground out and Lorenzo Cain to line out, but Eric Hosmer broke through with a single to center field, plating two runs. Kendrys Morales singled to push Hosmer to third and Mike Moustakas singled to center to bring Hosmer home, making it a 4-1 lead for the Royals.


The Royals had the lowest strikeout rate among all 30 major league teams at 15.9 percent. They were comfortably better than the next-best team, the Athletics at 18.1 percent. Thus, it’s no surprise that an imperfect deGrom was promptly punished for his inability to put the Royals’ hitters away once he reached two strikes.


The Royals deepened the Mets’ hole in the bottom of the eighth against lefty Jon Niese. Mike Moustakas led off with a single, then Salvador Perez and Gordon hit back-to-back doubles to push in another run and chase Niese from the game. Addison Reed came in but Paulo Orlando drove a deep fly ball to left field, allowing Perez to score and Gordon to advance to third base with one out. Alcides Escobar drilled a triple to center field over the head of Juan Lagares, and Gordon scored easily to make it 7-1. Reed finally got out of the inning when Zobrist grounded out to a drawn-in infield and Cain popped up.


Starter Johnny Cueto went all nine innings, rebounding nicely from his shellacking in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, when he yielded eight runs over two-plus innings. The Mets managed only two hits against him: an infield single by Duda in the second, and Duda’s RBI single in the fourth. Along with the two scant hits, Cueto only walked three while fanning four. The Mets went down quietly in the ninth inning, as Curtis Granderson and David Wright both grounded out. Daniel Murphy walked and took second base on fielder’s indifference, but Yoenis Cespedes flied out to right field to end the game. It was a breezy two-hour and 54-minute game, a blink of an eye compared to Tuesday's 14-inning, 5:09 game.


The Mets’ 1-4 hitters combined to go 0-for-13 with three walks. The bottom four went 0-for-12 with no walks. For those keeping score at home, yes, Duda was the only Mets batter to record a base hit. This won't be a night the Mets will want to remember.


The Royals have a comfy 2-0 lead in the World Series over the Mets. They have to feel quite good about emerging victorious in both games started by Matt Harvey and deGrom.


World Series Heads to Queens

The Royals and Mets will take Thursday off to travel to New York’s Citi Field, where Games 3, 4, and 5 of the World Series will be hosted. Here are the expected pitching match-ups:


Black Is Back

James Wagner of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals are expected to name Bud Black as their new manager. Black had been one of two finalists along with Dusty Baker. Both interviewed with the club for a second time on Monday. As Wagner notes, the Nationals haven’t officially announced the hiring as Major League Baseball frowns on teams making announcements during the World Series.


Black, 58, had previously managed the Padres for nine years from 2007-15. He led the team to an aggregate 649-713 record, failing to reach the playoffs in all nine years.


The Nationals entered the 2015 season as favorites to win the World Series after adding Max Scherzer to a rotation that included Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and Gio Gonzalez. Despite a strong rotation and an MVP-caliber season from Bryce Harper, Williams reportedly lost his clubhouse. The Nationals were a combined seven games under .500 in July and August. They lost first place to the Mets in early August and never recovered.


As a result of Williams’ failure as a manager, ostensibly due to his lack of prior managing experience, the Nationals wanted to hire a manager with plenty of experience. Thus, it was no surprise that Black and Baker had been their top two choices.


Quick Hits: Yankees closer Andrew Miller was named the 2015 Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year … Pirates closer Mark Melancon was named the 2015 Mariano Rivera National League Reliever of the Year … Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun has qualified as a Super Two player and will be eligible for arbitration this winter … The Diamondbacks hired Mike Butcher as their pitching coach … Royals infielder Ben Zobrist said he won’t leave the team if his wife goes into labor … Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar and first baseman Eric Hosmer both had two hits and two RBI in Wednesday’s Game 2 win against the Mets … Royals outfielder Alex Gordon hit an RBI double and walked twice to help beat the Mets in Game 2 on Wednesday.

Bill Baer
Bill Baer writes for HardballTalk and Rotoworld and covers the Phillies at his site Crashburn Alley. You can follow him on Twitter @Baer_Bill.