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Decision to start Johnny Cueto in Game 2 of World Series pays off for Royals

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Johnny Cueto threw

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Johnny Cueto threw a two-hitter against the Mets in Game 2 of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015. Credit: Newsday/ J. Conrad Williams Jr.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Royals didn't try to hide how much more they liked their chances at home with Johnny Cueto than on the road. The starting pitcher himself backed up the club's thinking.

"I do feel more comfortable here at home," Cueto said Tuesday on the eve of his Game 2 start in the World Series.

You think?

The righthander, in complete command with all of his pitches, especially devastating with his changeup, allowed two hits and three walks in a complete-game 7-1 victory Wednesday night.

"That's what they brought me here for," said Cueto, the Royals' centerpiece acquisition at the trade deadline who had been mostly inconsistent since his arrival.

Cueto, who struck out four, got stronger as the night went on, retiring 15 straight entering the ninth inning before a two-out walk. He fed off the noisy Kauffman Stadium crowd of 40,410, which chanted his name as he came out and started the ninth.

"I just felt very, very strongly that he was going to put up a great performance," Royals manager Ned Yost said, "and he did."

Yost planned to use closer Wade Davis for the ninth but the Royals scored three runs in the eighth to make it 7-1. That outburst, and Cueto's overall brilliance, allowed Yost not only to save his closer, but the entire bullpen, which is fully rested.

"That's what an ace does," said first baseman Eric Hosmer. "He pretty much went out there and put the team on his back."

Cueto had not done that as often as the Royals hoped since early August, going 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA in 13 starts after the trade. And those inconsistencies continued in his first three postseason starts. He had one outstanding start, (Game 5 of the ALDS vs. Houston), an average one (Game 2 against the Astros) and one disaster, Game 3 of the ALCS against Toronto when he allowed eight runs in two-plus innings.

In that outing, the Blue Jays punished him as he left pitches up in the strike zone. That was not an issue Wednesday night.

"You saw it in even the last inning, still changing speeds, throwing strikes, using his changeup, pitching to both sides of the plate," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Very effective pitching in . . . He's good. That's why they went out and got him."

After Lucas Duda's RBI single in the fourth gave the Mets a 1-0 lead, Cueto retired 15 straight until a two-out walk to Daniel Murphy in the ninth.

"Tonight," Yost said, "was everything we expected Johnny to be."


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