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Kansas City Takes Commanding Two Game Lead In World Series

This was the pitching match up baseball fans had been waiting for. Power versus power. Ace versus ace. Hair versus hair.

In the end the Royals Johnny Cueto and his dreadlocks trounced the Mets Jacob deGrom and his flowing warrior locks 7-1 to go up two games to none in the World Series.

For five innings last night the duel lived up to the hype. Both were in control and pitching gems. deGrom, last year's National League Rookie of the Year, was perfect for the first three innings. Cueto was sharp, the complete opposite of his last start in Toronto in the ALCS where he gave up six runs and couldn't get through the third inning.

Royals manager Ned Yost couldn't have been happier with Cueto's performance. “Tonight was everything we expected Johnny to be. He was on the attack, he kept the ball down, he changed speeds. You know, it was just a spectacular performance by him.”

Still the game was tight until the fifth inning. The Mets were up by a run but deGrom walked Alex Gordon leading off. Then Alex Rios singled followed by a single by Alcides Escobar and most sensed the wheels were coming off the Mets. New York manager Terry Collins says he never considered pulling deGrom. “This guy’s been our ace, you know, you gotta stay with him.”

Before the inning ended the Royals scored four runs to take the lead and never looked back.

After the game, Collins suggested the hard-throwing deGrom relied too much on his fastball. “You got to move it around, you’ve got to change speeds, you’ve got to give them something else to look at. If you’re going to continue to pound the strike zone they’re going to put it in play."

Cueto then dominated the rest of the game. He gave up only two hits and at one point set down 15 Mets in a row. By the eighth the only question was whether Cueto was going to try for a complete game. The last time an American League pitcher went the full nine in the World Series was 1991.

Yost said he planned to send closer Wade Davis out in the ninth. “Johnny had done his job at that point. You know, in a save situation that’s Wade’s job."

But the Royals scored three more times in their half of the eighth and Yost stayed with Cueto. The sellout crowd was chanting Cueto's name and it felt like they would demand Yost's head if he pulled his starter.

“You know the offense and all the boys in the dugout really wanted to see him go out and finish it and I’m just glad we ended up putting up those runs so he could go back out there and finish the job,” said first baseman Eric Hosmer. “That’s what an ace does. When you realize your bullpen is pretty much spent and they’re pretty much burnt out, he went out there and put the team on his back.”

The Royals went deep into their bullpen in game one so the Cueto complete game also gave the relievers some rest going into games three and four at Citi Field in New York on Friday and Saturday.

Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR. He's also co-host of KCUR's political podcast Statehouse Blend. Follow him on Twitter @samzeff.

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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