By: Paul DiSclafani
I can’t wait to get to Game 3 so I can stop answering questions about what happened to the Mets in Games 1 and 2.
I know, we all know. The Mets gave away Game 1 of the World Series to the Royals and then were embarrassed by Johnny Cueto in Game 2, giving the Royals a 2-0 advantage. That’s the facts as I know them.
But there is a saying in any seven game series that the series doesn’t really start until the home team loses a game. The Royals are a really good team, remember? It would have been nice to win a game in Kansas City and would have been great to win both games, but who really thought that was going to happen?
Well, I did, but that doesn’t matter. I’m a fan, you know.
You got to play the cards that are dealt you and right now, the Mets are not where they thought they would be. But let’s talk about how important this Game 3 is for both teams, shall we?
In any seven game series, Game 3 is pivotal for both teams, regardless of the outcome of Games 1 and 2. Here’s why:
- One team is leaving the confines of their own ballpark, their raucous fans and their own bed. The other team is heading home to their ballpark, their raucous fans and their own beds. You don’t think that is a big deal? It doesn’t matter if you play better on the road or at home, the World Series is a BIG event. We are talking League Championship here. One team is getting out of their comfort zone and the other team is settling into theirs.
- In baseball, there is a huge tactical advantage to playing at home because you get last licks. And in the World Series, there is no DH in the National League park. Not only does that change how you manage your pitchers and your batting order, but for the AL Club, your DH could be a problem. There is a reason why he’s your DH – he most likely is not good at catching the ball. And for the NL Club, they just don’t know who to use or how to use them as a DH. It’s like having a pinch hitter every three innings, only you can use the same guy.
- For the NL, it’s three consecutive games in their wheelhouse – pitching changes, double switches, managing the bench. For the AL team, well, it’s just not the same game they play all year-long.
- Even with the advent of Inter-Division games, the NL teams don’t know a lot about the AL teams and vice-versa. If the Mets and Nationals had met in the NLCS, they would know so much about each other there would be no surprises. But the only things these two teams know about each other they have heard from other people. They have seen video, read scouting reports, but have not lined up against them. Now they have seen each other twice. We’ve seen their best pitchers and they have seen ours. The batters have had 8-10 AB’s. When the first plane hit the Twin Towers, you weren’t sure what was happening. But when the second one hit, there was no doubt we were under attack. There are no more surprises from these two teams. Game 3 will be all about baseball.
- Games 4, 5, 6 and 7 all have their level of importance in any seven game series. As a matter of fact, Games 5, 6 and 7 contain that dreaded “if necessary” asterisk. But Game 3 is pivotal for a number of reasons, regardless of what happened in the first two games. It’s the last game in the series that anyone can lose without having to worry about being eliminated.
- The team that is up 2-0 can take a stranglehold on the series with a win in Game 3. Yeah, I know that being down 3-0 still means you have a chance, but come on! What chance do you really have? Oh sure, coaches and players will all stay the right things – “one game at a time”, “win every inning” – it’s all crap and the fans know it. Mathematically, going down in a series 3-0 is not elimination, but mentally it is.
- The team that is down 2-0 can get back into the series with a win. This scenario doesn’t change the momentum of the series, but does get the losing team back into it.
- If the series is tied 1-1, the winning team can get some momentum from this win going into Game 4.
So let’s get back to the situation at hand, shall we.
Down 2-0 in the series, the Mets are in a “must win” situation. But they are playing at home and that has to be a factor. Ask the Dodgers what they thought about playing at Citi Field, ask the Cubs. Noah Syndergaard is so highly regarded by the Mets brass that they considered having him start Game 1 of the World Series because he has been that good. Syndergaard has 20K’s in his 13 postseason innings and has given up just 4 runs (2.77 ERA), three of them against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLDS.
The Royals will be without their DH Kendrys Morales, who drove in 106 runs in the regular season and will be starting Yordano Ventura, who is 0-1 in his 4 postseason starts, giving up 20 hits, 3 HR, 8 walks and 10 runs in his 17.2 innings (5.09 ERA). He has hit 102 on the radar gun, but the 24 year-old has been an enigma on the field, challenging opposing players and umpires, getting fired up and sometimes off his game. He plays with a lot of emotion and the NY Crowd will be looking to get under his skin. He has been called a headhunter by a lot of opposing players.
The Mets have to solve the mystery of the Royals batting prowess. These guys just do not strike out. Both Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom found out the hard way that this team is different. All year, they have been able to rear back and get a strikeout when they needed it. Not in Games 1 and 2. In Game 2, the Mets pitchers threw 34 pitches to batters that had two strikes on them, and 31 times the KC player swung and made contact. Two watched a called strike 3, and the other was a swing and a miss.
Now it’s do-or-die for the Mets. Game 3 does that to you when you are down 2-0. Their season is in the hands of a guy who didn’t make the team out of Spring Training. This team has played on the cusp of disaster all year-long, pulling out of a spiral and turning things around.
Let’s hope they can do it one more time.