Jim Deshaies is a smart baseball analyst and I enjoy listening to him on Marquee Sports Network. During the broadcast of Tuesday’s game, and I’m paraphrasing here, he said that in the Cubs clubhouse prior to the game, they might have said things along the line of, “What are we even doing here, there’s no way we can win this game against a pitcher like Jacob deGrom?”
Reverse psychology, of a sort, and if that’s how the Cubs approached this game, with a “What do we have to lose?” attitude, it worked, and better than we might have imagined. They put together a varied offense that included both home runs and a squeeze bunt and got the best starting effort of Adrian Sampson’s career and defeated the Mets and deGrom 4-1 Tuesday night in New York.
There was a bit of a kerfuffle in the first inning. Pete Alonso, the third batter against Sampson, hit a ball that was very, very close to being a two-run homer. It was ruled foul, and that was ruled “call stands” on review [VIDEO].
Umpire Laz Diaz’ microphone didn’t work, as you could hear on the broadcast, here’s the official MLB Replays Twitter account showing that call (again, I have no idea why Twitter thinks this is “sensitive content”:
Btm 1st - Crew Chief reviews call that Pete Alonso did not hit a home run; call stands, it is not a home run, foul ball. Powered by @Mitel. pic.twitter.com/tiSyzqWkjZ— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) September 14, 2022
Anyway, Alonso wound up drawing a walk. He slammed his bat to the ground in apparent frustration at the ruling, and he and Sampson had a few words. Fortunately, that’s all that happened, and Sampson retired Daniel Vogelbach to end the inning.
The Cubs took the lead in the top of the second off deGrom. Ian Happ led off the inning with his 17th home run of the year [VIDEO].
That went so far it flummoxed closed captioning:
Hi dr. pic.twitter.com/qoVS05OvCz— MLB Closed Captioning (@mlb_cc) September 14, 2022
The Cubs put two more on the board in the third by playing small ball. Franmil Reyes and Happ singled, putting runners on first and second. Michael Hermosillo tried a sacrifice bunt, and when Mets catcher James McCann threw the ball away, the bases were loaded. (Truth be told, Hermosillo was probably out of the running lane and should have been ruled out, but that call was not made and it’s not reviewable.)
Yan Gomes followed with this sacrifice fly to make it 2-0 [VIDEO].
On that play, Happ took third, where he scored on this lovely squeeze bunt by Patrick Wisdom [VIDEO].
Previously in that inning, Rafael Ortega had to leave the game when he also squared to bunt and a deGrom pitch hit him in the hand [VIDEO].
Unfortunately, that injury will end Ortega’s season:
Left ring finger fracture for Rafael Ortega. His season is over. Tough end for a veteran who's worked hard for the team the last two seasons and turned into a good example for younger players.— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) September 14, 2022
I’ve been critical of Ortega at times, but you never like to see players injured and Sahadev Sharma is right about Ortega being a hard worker and setting a good example. To add insult to this injury, the pitch was ruled a foul ball — watch the video again, it clearly hit his hand and not the bat.
While all this was going on, Sampson settled down from that first inning and wound up throwing six shutout innings, with two hits allowed (both singles). He did issue four walks, but obviously none of them scored. It was the first time in Sampson’s career that he threw six scoreless innings in a game, an excellent performance against a pretty good hitting ballclub.
The Cubs got one more long ball in the seventh from David Bote [VIDEO].
Bote’s drive, his second of the year, made it 4-0. Michael Rucker and Brandon Hughes finished up, with the only Mets run scoring on an Alonso homer with one out in the ninth. Here’s the final out [VIDEO].
That was another satisfying win against a very good team, with an offense that did quite a number of things successfully. I liked the approach against deGrom, who can be defeated — in his eight starts this year, the Mets are just 5-3. The Mets are locked in a tight race for the NL East lead — the Braves won late Tuesday and the Mets’ lead is down to half a game — and it’s fun for the Cubs, in a lost season, to play spoiler in a pennant race.
Here’s Ian Happ on his good game against deGrom:
Ian Happ went 2-for-3 off Jacob deGrom.— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) September 14, 2022
He caught up with @Taylor_McGregor after the Cubs win. pic.twitter.com/JqqahsfARm
The Cubs will go for a series sweep (!) Wednesday evening at Citi Field. Drew Smyly will start for the Cubs and David Peterson will get the call for the Mets. Game time Wednesday is again 6:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.