The Kansas City Royals are two games away from clinching their first World Series in 30 years. The Royals beat the New York Mets in Game 2 at home, putting them in the drivers' seat as the teams head for the Big Apple.
Dominican pitcher Johnny Cueto pulled off the best performance of his career, tossing a two-hitter complete game to lead the Royals to a 7-1 drubbing of the Mets at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday night.
"It's a lot of pride being able to do what I did out there," the 29-year-old Cueto told reporters afterwards. "That's what they brought me here for, to help win a World Series," he added, referring to his mid-season trade from the Cincinatti Reds.
A much-needed night off for the bullpen
Not only did Cueto's complete game lead Royals to victory, but it also allowed the bullpen to take the night off after almost all of them took the mound in a 5-4, 14-inning victory in Game 1. That gives them two nights off before Friday's Game 3 in New York - something that could spell the difference between winning and losing there.
"Last night we had to burn the bullpen pretty good," Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "For him to come out and throw a complete game, and really save those guys, getting them two days off heading to New York, is huge.
Royals manager Ned Yost had considered bringing in reliever Wade Davis in the final inning but three extra runs in the eighth opened up the six-run lead, convincing him to let Cueto go the distance.
"Johnny had done his job at that point," Yost said. "Johnny wanted to go back out. I (said) if we score a couple of runs we'll let you go back out, and we did."
Cueto's was the first complete World Series game by an American League pitcher since Minnesota's Jack Morris in 1991 and the first such effort with no more than two hits allowed since Boston's Jim Lonborg in 1967.
'A lot of work left to do'
Hosmer, though, was quick to note that the series was far from over, harkening back to one year earlier, when the Royals came up short gainst the Giants in a series that went the full seven games.
"There's still a lot of work yet to do," he said. "Last year we took a 2-1 lead in San Francisco and were feeling pretty good about ourselves."
This year, the Royals hope they have learned enough from that experience to bring the World Series back to Kansas City for the first time since 1985.
pfd/ (AP, AFP)