It’s a position that spells near death for almost any team. In fact, 15 of the last 16 teams that faltered in the first two games of the World Series went on to lose the series. The only exception? The 1996 New York Yankees who came back to beat the Atlanta Braves.
The New York Mets find themselves in a 2-0 hole after losing two games that couldn’t have been more different from each other. Game 1 was a 14 inning thriller that the Mets appeared to have all but locked up until Alex Gordon hit a one out home run in the 9th inning to tie the game. Game 2 was a 7-1 beatdown by the Kansas City Royals.
Now the Mets have to take advantage of the next three games at Citi Field and claw their way back into the series if they want to prove recent vintage wrong and defy the odds that they are a team playing on borrowed time.
How can they do that? I’m glad you asked. Here are five Keys for a Mets’ Game 3 victory.
1.Noah Syndergaard‘s heat
Fun fact: the last time the Mets found themselves in a 2-0 hole was in the 1986 World Series. The last time they won a championship. If the Mets are going to try and repeat history, they’re going to need Syndergaard’s blazing fastball at the forefront.
Much has been made of the fact that the Royals had the highest average in the majors against fastball’s 95 MPH and above. When looking at the Mets stable of young pitching, it’s nothing but guys that throw 95 and up. With all the hysteria caused over the Royals ability to hit a firm fastball, it has caused the Mets starters to stray away from what has made them a dominate staff: throwing heat.
Syndergaard arguably has the best fastball on the Mets. He needs to come out in Game 3 and establish it as a pitch that he can get Royals’ hitters out with. It’s been well documented about the Royals uncanny ability to not strike out and put the ball in play. In Game 2, Jacob deGrom only managed to get three swings and misses with his fastball over his five innings of work. His lowest swing and miss total ever in a start. The Royals aren’t going to strike out but, if Syndergaard can come out and not stray away from using one his best assets as a pitcher, it’ll make his repertoire of nasty pitches even better.
2. No designated hitter
It’s time for both leagues to use a designated hitter. But I’ll save that argument for later. Royals skipper Ned Yost finds himself in a tough spot trying to figure out how to use Kendrys Morales in a NL park. Morales has been the Royals biggest offensive producer and Yost no longer has a spot to place him in the lineup.
This is a huge advantage for the Mets, keeping the power, switch-hitting bat out of the Royals lineup. Yost will most likely use Morales for pinch hitting situations late in games over the next few games, but may have to play current first basemen, Eric Hosmer, in right field to keep Morales’ bat in the lineup.
For Game 3, at least, the Mets need to take advantage of not having to face Morales four times.
Remember when Cespedes got traded to the Mets and he hit 17 home runs in only 230 at-bats? I’m sure Mets fans everywhere do and are wondering where that Cespedes went. So far Cespedes has only hit .227 in the postseason and has lost all his extra base power.
Battling an AC joint that he hurt in the NLCS probably hasn’t helped his cause, but with Daniel Murphy not hitting home runs at a Babe Ruth like pace, Cespedes has to step up and show some kind of life with the lumber if the Mets are going to get back on the winning track.
4. Shake it off
The great Taylor Swift once sang, “I shake it off.” Not as wise or as witty as someone such as an Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison, but words the Mets’ bullpen — Jeurys Familia in particular — needs to remember. After blowing his first save of the postseason and his first save since July 30th, if Familia gets a save opportunity in Game 3, he needs to shake off any remnants of blowing a potential Game 1 victory and continue his near Mariano Rivera like dominance he has shown all postseason.
5. Defense wins championships
The Mets defense has hurt them in the World Series. The Mets do have a decent defensive team when certain players are in the line up, but the blunders they have committed are errors that cannot be excused no matter the defenders on the field.
The biggest miscue came in Game 1 when Cespedes, who has mainly been a corner outfielder, misplayed a flyball in center field that led to a lead off inside the park home run by Alcides Escobar.
When Micheal Conforto, Cespedes, and Curtis Granderson are in the outfield it does make for some suspect defense. But misplays like Cespedes’ in Game 1 are inexcusable and cannot happen.
In Game 3 the Mets need to make it a priority to make sure they don’t give an already hard to keep down team extra chances to beat them.