If only this one could have replaced some of the performances in the NLCS. Jake Arrieta, dominant. The Cubs hitting Noah Syndergaard.
Sadly, things don't work that way. But this game was one of the Cubs' best in the early going and gave us some hints of the Arrieta to come.
In the original version of this recap posted back in May, I referred to the Mets' Daniel Murphy as "David Murphy," who the Cubs would see later in the year with the Indians. Easy to confuse the two back then, when both seemed like bit players. If only Daniel Murphy had stayed that way.
The Cubs improved to 17-15 after this win and remained six games behind the Cardinals in second place in the N.L. Central.
SITE NOTE: This series will be off tomorrow for Thanksgiving, and will resume on Friday.
Not only is the complaint department closed today, the praise department is open for business. (Hallelujah!)
The Cubs defeated the Mets 6-1 on another chilly evening at Wrigley Field, the kind of mid-May night when you begin to wonder if it's ever going to warm up in Chicago before summer is upon us.
Jake Arrieta, much hotter than the weather, had a game reminiscent of some of his dominant 2014 performances. He allowed just one hit prior to the eighth inning, a single by that bounced just out of Kris Bryant's reach at third base. Curtis Granderson was the only other Met who reached off Arrieta through seven. He walked twice. All three of these baserunners were erased. The Cubs turned a double play after Granderson walked in the first. Granderson was out trying to take third on Murphy's single on a strong, accurate throw from Chris Coghlan to Bryant, and then Michael Cuddyer hit into an inning-ending double play.
So Arrieta faced the minimum 21 batters through seven innings, before running out of gas and allowing two singles and a sacrifice fly for the Mets' only run in the eighth. Arrieta struck out 10 and posted the second-best Game Score (80) of any Cubs starter this year. (Jason Hammel posted a GS of 81 April 27 against the Pirates.) James Russell gave up a couple of harmless singles in the ninth before striking out the last two hitters to end it.
The Cubs took a while to figure out Noah Syndergaard, the hard-throwing Mets rookie making his big-league debut. He came as advertised, throwing 97-plus in the first inning and keeping up that velocity throughout. Jorge Soler singled in the second, went to second base on a wild pitch but was stranded. The Cubs loaded the bases in the third on an infield single by Bryant (I continue to be impressed by his hustle) and a pair of walks, but Soler flied to right.
Bryant tripled off the right-field gate in the fifth after two were out, and Anthony Rizzo walked, but Miguel Montero struck out to end that threat.
Finally, the Cubs broke through in the sixth. Soler lined a single to center and Starlin Castro drove him home with a double into the left-field corner. Chris Coghlan then turned on a 96 mile-per-hour Syndergaard fastball and deposited it in the still-unfinished right-field bleachers for a 3-0 Cubs lead.
You could see why the Cubs had been so interested in dealing for Thor. And, why the Mets likely won't trade him anytime soon, if ever.
Alex Torres, he of the oversized protective cap, relieved Syndergaard and walked the bases loaded. Montero hit what appeared to be an inning-ending ground ball, but Ruben Tejada couldn't handle it and it went for an RBI single, completing the Cubs' sixth-inning scoring.
That would have been plenty for a win, but Bryant decided he enjoyed hitting home runs into the now-populated bleachers. He led off the ninth inning and crushed a pitch from Hansel Robles deep into the new left-field bleachers, nearly to the back row, his third homer and second in two nights. I have a feeling the homers are going to come in bunches for Bryant now. He also singled and walked. Rizzo had an interesting night with a groundout, a double and three walks. Rizzo's OBP stands at .455, second in the National League. Bryant and Rizzo rank seventh and eighth in the league in walks (and Bryant missed the first eight games), and Montero and Dexter Fowler are tied for 17th. The Cubs' 114 walks as a team rank second in the league to the Dodgers, and the team OBP ranks fifth, far better than last year's team, which was 13th.
All in all, a nearly flawless performance by everyone on the team. Keep up the great work.
You could tell they're working in the bleachers as much as they can even on game days. Places that I saw unpainted on Monday had been painted before Tuesday's game. Cubs staffers were still really good about getting everyone organized at gate-opening before the game and that was helpful to everyone waiting outside, although it was a much smaller gathering than on Monday. The curiosity-seekers of the first day in the new bleachers gone, the bleachers were far below capacity Tuesday night.
The Cubs thus clinched no worse than a tie in this four-game set against the Mets and will go for the series win Wednesday night. It won't be easy, as the Mets send their ace Matt Harvey to the mound against Hammel. The weather isn't expected to be any warmer, but let's hope the Cubs' bats stay hot.