NEW YORK (Reuters) - Trailing two games to none in a World Series is an uphill climb, but New York teams have bucked the odds in the past.
Though the last nine teams to jump ahead 2-0 in the best-of-seven for the Major League Baseball championship have lifted the trophy, it is not a foregone conclusion in these parts.
The last two teams to overcome that deficit both represented the Big Apple.
The New York Yankees in 1996 lost the first two games at home to the Atlanta Braves and roared back to win the next four for their first World Series triumph in 18 years.
Ten years earlier, the Mets dropped their first two home games to fall behind 2-0 against the Boston Red Sox before rallying to win the 1986 World Series for their first crown in 17 seasons.
Mets manager Terry Collins and Game Three starter Noah Syndergaard believe the shift from Kansas City to Queens will make a world of difference to the National League champions.
“Our fans are pretty tough. They’re strong and they’re tough,” said Collins about the inspirational affect they have.
“I think the impact is going to be on us more than anything. It inspires our guys.”
Collins said the Citi Field frenzy can also weigh on a visiting team.
“I’ve been on the other side of the field in New York City in a big series and it’s hard,” Collins added. “It’s tough. We’re glad to be back here.”
The biggest game of the Mets’ season will be entrusted to 23-year-old rookie Syndergaard, who regularly hits 100 mph (160 kph) on the radar gun.
It will be power against power, as the Royals have been Major League Baseball’s best hitters against fastballs of 95 mph-plus.
“Obviously, they’re going against us with their strengths and their strength is how aggressive they are,” Syndergaard said at Citi Field on Thursday. “I can’t be too focused on that, because I still have to be able to pitch to my strengths.”
That attitude could lead to a special duel against Kansas City’s young fireballer Yordano Ventura, who also touches 100 with his fastball but struggles with wildness on occasion.
Syndergaard, who was 9-7 this season with a 3.24 ERA, posted 166 strikeouts in 150 innings during the regular season. This postseason, he has logged 13 innings with 20 strikeouts.
Royals batters led the majors with fewest strikeouts.
New York’s first two starters in the Fall Classic, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, seemed to shy away from using their fastballs but Syndergaard sounds determined to rely on his heat.
“My main focus is being to pitch to my strengths and be able to execute all my pitches and just focus on winning one pitch at a time,” Syndergaard said, adding that he must stay calm in what he expects will be a charged atmosphere.
“The fans are electric,” he said about the postseason. “Each pitch is entirely crucial to the game and can be a huge factor in the outcome of the game.
“I’ve just got to ... try to slow the game down as much as possible.”
The big Texan, who goes by the nickname “Thor”, also believes that playing on their home field will help the Mets turn the tide.
“Coming back home is a big thing for us,” said Syndergaard. “Having the Mets faithful behind us and the greatest fans in baseball.”
Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes