Major League Baseball

Mets seek improvement in clutch vs. Royals

mlb10METS (62-60) AT ROYALS (44-78)
7:15 p.m. ET; FSKC, WPIX, MLB.TV

The Kansas City Royals (+1.5) and the New York Mets (-1.5) will continue a three-game series Saturday night with the Mets likely looking at missed opportunities from their 4-1 loss in the opener.

In their 2015 World Series loss to the Royals, the Mets blew leads in all four defeats, including blowing two ninth-inning leads.

On Friday, the telling stat was New York’s 1-for-9 production with runners on base. Trailing by three runs, the Mets loaded the bases in the ninth before a game-ending groundout.

The Mets will send Jacob deGrom (7-7, 2.68 ERA) to the mound to try to end a stretch that has seen them lose four of their past five.

It will be the first appearance against the Royals during the regular season for deGrom. He did face the Royals in Game 2 of the 2015 World Series, taking the loss. He allowed four earned runs on six hits in five innings.

He owns a 6-8 career record with a 3.14 ERA in 20 interleague starts. This season, he is 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts vs. American League teams.

Over his past 15 starts, deGrom has a 1.97 ERA. In his past seven starts, his ERA is 1.20. Part of that success may have been pitching to catcher Wilson Ramos almost exclusively.

“I have thrown the ball really well to him,” deGrom said. “That has been going on for quite a while now. There’s a little learning curve.

“This is the first year of him catching us, kind of knowing our game plan, and me and him have been on the same page since I have been throwing to him and just talking to him more, him going over the hitters a little more and I think him getting more comfortable with what our stuff does as well.”

Jakob Junis (8-10, 4.80 ERA) will get the start for the Royals. He won his second consecutive start on Sunday against the Detroit Tigers (+1.5), working six innings and permitting two runs on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts. In his prior outing, he limited the Boston Red Sox (-2) to one run in six innings on Aug. 6 at Fenway Park.

Junis’ outing in Detroit was not as dominant as the stat line showed, at least according to his manager.

“I told (Junis) after the sixth, ‘You did a great job. Now go take your skates off,'” Ned Yost said after that game. “And he said, ‘Skates?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, you’ve been skating on thin ice for three innings.’

“He was hanging sliders and really battled, but he never stopped competing. I was really proud of him. It’s not easy to pitch when you don’t have your best stuff.”

Junis has never faced the Mets. He has a 0-1 record with a 4.76 ERA in two interleague starts this season.

The 26-year-old right-hander will hope to continue a recent trend by Royals starters. Over their past five starts, the Royals rotation has compiled a 1.74 ERA, helped by Mike Montgomery‘s six-inning outing Friday in which he gave up just an unearned run.

–Field Level Media

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