Mancuso: Mets Turn To Thor

They have been through the adversity so the New York Mets look at a 2-0 deficit to the Kansas City Royals as something they can overcome. However this is a must game Friday night at Citi Field when Noah Syndergaard takes the mound for Game 3 of the World Series.

Every game this late in October ,when you are one of two teams still playing is a must win. The Mets know the chances of overcoming a 3-0 deficit in a best four-of-seven series is extremely difficult and if they don’t then they should pack their bags and go home for the winter.

Except this is a Mets team that has not quit and they don’t go away that easy. So Friday night, and with their rabid fans at home they don’t expect the Royals to get that commanding lead. And they have “Thor” on the mound which gives them hope to make this series a little more interesting.

“I mean obviously we didn’t plan this to happen to be down 0-2,” said Syndergaard. He was one of the few Mets that worked out at Citi Field Thursday afternoon. Manager Terry Collins had an optional workout after his team went through 23 hours of baseball in 24 hours.

But “Thor” was there and he has to be there Friday night if the Mets want to make this series get more interesting,

“I think he’s come a long way,” manager Terry Collins said about the 22-year old righthander who is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA, six walks and 20 strikeouts over three postseason appearances. He also tossed an inning of relief in Game 5 of the NLDS at Los Angeles and started Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs in the Mets 4-1 win.

But can Syndergaard, who throws a 100- mile fastball stop the aggressive Royals, a team that thrives on hitting a first pitch fastball? The way the Royals approach their at bats even the heat thrown by Syndergaard may not be enough.

“I think as much as you’d like to go to that crusty veteran guy who’s been here, who’s done it, to help you out of the hole you’re in, we’re not asking that,” Collins said. “We’re asking that this kid go out and pitch his game and his stuff should play.”

Collins alluded to that Game 5 in Los Angeles and said, “I asked a 22-year old to come back in Game 5 and pitch an inning out of the bullpen which he’s never done in his life and truly confident that he can do it and he did it.”

And, if indeed Syndergaard is able to keep the Royals off the bases, the lineup that Collins puts on the field for Game 3 needs to provide some run support. Juan Lagares could get the start in center and that would displace Michael Conforto, the slumping rookie from left field. Daniel Murphy has to step up and become “Mr. October” again, David Wright needs to get on base, and Yoenis Cespedes has to find the adjustments with his swing and become that needed run producer.

Game 1 was there and it dissipated on that one pitch from Jeurys Familia. That split of two games out of Kansas City makes it so more important now for Syndergaard to pitch around the Royals who don’t swing and miss.

Syndergaard has a plan to keep the Royals off the bases. He may need to go to the adjustments knowing the strengths and aggression of a Kansas City lineup that is deep one-to-eight, and it would be nine if the designated hitter was used in the National League ballpark.

“My main focus is being able to pitch to my strengths and be able to execute all my pitches and just focus on winning one pitch at a time,” said Syndergaard. “From Game 1 with Harvey ,(Matt) from the first pitch you know how aggressive they are ,but you don’t get a full grasp of how aggressive they can be unless you fully experience it. “

He observed the first two games with Harvey and Jacob deGrom on the mound. The observation was devising a plan and how to approach this Royals lineup. As Collins said, this is a youngster who just gets better every time he takes the mound.

However there is no time for observing or learning more Friday night. Collins has faith in the righthander, so do the Mets who have seen him grow, And to the fans, “Thor” will have to live up to his name in order for the Mets to give this series some life going into a Game 4 Saturday night.

“The maturity level that he’s been able to go through, I don’t want to say transformation,” said Michael Cuddyer. “But the evolution that he’s been able to go through from that first day in Wrigley Field for his debut up to now has been extremely impressive. Especially for a 22-year old to be pitching in games of this magnitude and be able to handle it as well as he is.”

Cuddyer, the crusty veteran said that Syndergaard trusts his stuff. “You should when you throw 98, 97, 100 miles an hour but also the secondary and third pitches as well. He’s not afraid to throw the curveball. He’s not afraid to throw the changeup. Not afraid to throw those in fastball counts which says a lot about a young flamethrower.”

Syndergaard said, “I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I’ll be able to break out tomorrow night. I’m looking forward to it.” And this is a game the Mets and their fans anticipate, because the guy they call “Thor” has to become the superhero and with the significance of not causing Game 4 to become the eliminator.

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About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich has covered countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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