This is perhaps the first time that the momentum of a Cubs game changed because of the result of a replay review.
Let's review the scene. There's one out in the bottom of the second inning, the game scoreless, runners on first and third. Eli Whiteside, playing in his first major-league game of 2014, lofts a fly ball to left field. Luis Valbuena tags up and tries to score, and Mets left fielder Andrew Brown throws him out.
Or, at least that's what plate umpire Clint Fagan ruled, on the play that you see at the top of this post. It was close enough that Rick Renteria challenged the result. During the couple of minutes that the umpires were listening to the review center folks in New York, Mets starter Jacob deGrom stood around, not loosening up as most pitchers do. Had the call been upheld, the inning would have been over with no runs scoring.
Here's the play so you can review it again yourself:
You can see that Valbuena got his hand on the plate just before Mets catcher Travis d`Arnaud tagged him. The review overturned Fagan's ruling, scoring a run and advancing Darwin Barney to second base with two out. It appeared that the review might have rattled deGrom, who was making just his fifth big-league start, because his next pitch was a fastball right down the middle to Travis Wood. The Cubs starting pitcher launched it deep into the left-field bleachers for his second home run of the season, making it 3-0 Cubs.
(If you are wondering, that's Wood's sixth home run as a Cub. One more will tie him with another Wood (Kerry) for seventh on the all-time Cubs pitcher home-run list.)
That wasn't, of course, the end of the game; Wood barely made it into the sixth inning and Justin Grimm coughed up the lead by allowing a two-run homer to Brown. But Anthony Rizzo matched that with a home run of his own in the seventh, his 11th of the year, and the Cubs tacked on two more in the eighth for a 7-4 win over the Mets, their first series sweep since last July at San Francisco and their first at Wrigley Field since July 2012 against the Diamondbacks. It's also the first time the Cubs have had a .500 record at home (13-13) since they were 36-36 late in the 2012 season.
Hector Rondon had thrown in each of the first two games of the series, though not an extraordinarily large number of pitches (13 Tuesday, 15 Wednesday). Nevertheless, Renteria gave him the evening off and called on Neil Ramirez to save the game. Despite a dropped foul popup by Rizzo with two out, Ramirez retired the side 1-2-3 for his first big-league save. This game also shows the meaninglessness of individual pitcher "wins," as the "win" went to Grimm, the pitcher of record when Rizzo gave the Cubs the lead for good with his homer. Grimm was clearly the least effective Cubs pitcher of the night, yet gets a "win" to his credit.
Credit to this Cubs team. They provided offense when needed in sweeping this series; it's just the fourth time all year they have scored at least five runs in consecutive games. Is that the Cubs being good... or the Mets being not-so-good? I can't really answer that question, having seen the Mets for only these three games, after they had come off a run of winning seven of 10. Even Barney joined in the fun, hitting two doubles and scoring three runs. That's the first time in Barney's career that he's had such a game.
Another reason the Cubs swept this series was holding down Mets star David Wright, who had been hot -- .338/.403/.492 in his last 15 games prior to coming to Wrigley. Wright went 0-for-10 in the three-game set, striking out three times.
The night was again a bit coolish, especially once the sun went down, and the announced attendance was again well below 30,000. Nice weather this weekend could generate some walkup sales, although it's doubtful there will be any significant numbers of Marlins fans in town. They don't seem to travel much; there were many Mets fans visible during the just-completed set, though they had little to cheer about during the Cubs' sweep.
Remember, Friday's game begins six straight home Fridays of 3:05 CT starts. The Marlins come into town tied for first place in the N.L. East, with a four-game winning streak and a sweep of the Rays. Friday afternoon, it'll be Jason Hammel facing Nathan Eovaldi.