KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After watching Johnny Cueto feed off the home crowd's energy in a dominant start against the Astros in the AL Division Series, Royals manager Ned Yost wanted to make sure his volatile ace would make his World Series starts at Kauffman Stadium.
Cueto responded by pitching a two-hitter as Kansas City romped 7-1 over the Mets in Game 2 on Wednesday night.
With the crowd firmly in his corner, Cueto threw 122 pitches in becoming the first American League pitcher to pitch a World Series complete game since the Twins' Jack Morris in 1991. He set down 16 of the final 17 batters he faced, helping Kansas City to a 2-0 lead.
Eric Hosmer hit a tiebreaking two-run single off Jacob deGrom in a four-run fifth for the Royals. He has 15 RBIs in 13 postseason games.
Citi Field hosts the World Series for the first time in Game 3 Friday night. Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard faces Yordano Ventura in a matchup of young aces who throw 100 mph.
The only spot of trouble Cueto ran into came in the fourth inning, when two walks and a single by Lucas Duda gave the Mets a 1-0 lead. Cueto recovered quickly, ensuring the Royals would have plenty of time to rally for another October win.
When they scored four in the fifth inning off the previously untouchable deGrom, there was some thought Yost might turn the game over to his stingy bullpen.
Instead, the veteran with the dreadlock mop plopped his hat right back on his head, trotted up the dugout steps, and continued to cruise through a Mets lineup powerless to stop him.
He mixed speeds. He hit the corners. He kept the NL champions guessing.
In other words, Cueto did everything that he failed to do in his last postseason start against the Blue Jays. He surrendered eight runs that night while becoming the first pitcher in postseason history to allow 11 baserunners and last two or fewer innings.
The outing was so horrific that Toronto fans inside Rogers Centre derisively chanted Cueto's name, hoping that Yost would leave him in the game to take more lumps.
Well, his name was being chanted at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday night, too.
But just like in the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS, when Cueto pitched eight two-hit innings against Houston and retired the final 19 batters he faced, all those chants reverberating through the stadium were for him. They came from fans young and old, wearing faux dreadlocks and toting homemade signs that said, "Johnny Be Good!"
It was the kind of starring role the Royals were counting on him to deliver when they mortgaged much of their future on him. The price was three left-handed pitching prospects, all considered top-flight talents, shipped to the Reds at the trading deadline.
Cueto is due to become a free agent, and the Royals almost certainly will be priced out of the bidding. So if he pitches again in a Kansas City uniform, it probably means that the World Series has shifted back to Kauffman Stadium after three games in New York.