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Heading Into Game 3, A Break Down Of The World Series So Far


The World Series moves to New York tonight. The Mets trail the Kansas City Royals 2-0.


The opening two games of the series were dominated by strong pitching, especially from the Royals. Johnny Cueto pitched a shutout in Game 2. Multiple pitchers made it through 14 innings in Game 1. And the story of starter Edinson Volquez was especially striking. His father died before he took the mound for Game 1.

INSKEEP: He was not told at his family's request, although reporters knew, including Jessica Mendoza of ESPN.

JESSICA MENDOZA: It was still very unknown, and we actually had some sources internally that said he didn't know. So when I was watching the game, you know, it was really just with a full heart of, like, can you imagine what's going through his mind right now. He wasn't as dramatic with his emotions as he normally is. He seemed like he was different. Obviously, he didn't know, but at the time, we thought he did.

INSKEEP: How'd he pitch?

MENDOZA: I thought it was one of his best performances. And he didn't have the command that he could have, but that's kind of just style.

INSKEEP: Now in the end, of course, Volquez did not get the win in this 14-inning game, but another Royals pitcher, Chris Young, was on at the end. And Chris Young had his own dramatic story because his father had died, what, a few weeks before?

MENDOZA: A month, yeah, I think it was September 26 that his father had passed. And, you know, you just felt like this story throughout the entire game, especially when he came in. Because you've got to remember, he was the Game 4 starter, so he was not expected to come out of the bullpen.

INSKEEP: He had to come in because the Royals were running out of pitchers in effect.

MENDOZA: Yeah, I think they only had one more to go, and it was the smartest decision just because of the way he came in. And even talking to Mets hitters the next day, I was speaking to David Wright yesterday, and he was just so impressed. He had heard so much about the bullpen, but he said, you know, I've never quite seen anything like I saw in the previous night. But he said there's a reason why the Royals are here, and I think a big part of it is the fact that their bullpen is so strong.

INSKEEP: No need for a Royals bullpen at all in Game 2, was there?

MENDOZA: No, I mean, Johnny Cueto - and it was really flip a coin of who you were going to get. I mean, Johnny Cueto with the Reds all season long, lights out. But since joining the Royals, he's only had a couple good starts and really has struggled. And you look at the numbers with him and, OK, you think about who's the hottest hitter of the postseason right now, Daniel Murphy. This guy has been ridiculous, right, hitting home runs every game, of the Mets. He's at-bat in the 6th inning. He strikes out looking on a pitch that looks like it's going to hit his front leg, and Cueto had this pitch move right back over the middle of the plate, and Murphy was just left looking like, are you serious? That to me, that pitch epitomized Johnny Cueto the entire game. I mean, he was on fire.

INSKEEP: Can the Royals keep this up?

MENDOZA: You know, I think they have the best now in their favor. I mean, if they beat Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom of the Mets, then - but you know what, this is the beauty, Steve, of the World Series, right. I mean, we can all sit here and say who is supposed to win. I would've put my money on deGrom over Cueto, and look at the performance. So I - you just never know, and I think that's the beauty of why they play.

INSKEEP: I can just hear in your voice the feeling you must get every year about this time.

MENDOZA: You know, this is my first World Series, so I've always been the fan. Being in the stands, watching, getting the feeling, like being on the field, talking to the guys, I mean, I'm just beyond pumped, first of all, but also just understanding, like, the nuances of - you know, you mentioned the defense of the Royals, you know, the little things. I mean, Jacob deGrom threw 94 pitches last night. He only had three swing and misses. Think about that. This is a strikeout king. The Royals only missed three times out of 94 pitches. Like, these are the things you can't - you can't even make it up. Like, how does this happen, only at the World Series.

INSKEEP: Jessica Mendoza of ESPN, thanks very much.

MENDOZA: Steve, you got it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.