Takeaways from the Mets 4-1 win over the Cubs on Sunday…
The Mets defeated the Cubs in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series by the score of 4-1 on Sunday night at Citi Field.
Here are my takeaways from the win…
An early barrage.
They beat Clayton Kershaw once, and beat Zack Greinke once and had him beat on another occasion as well. So there was no reason to expect the Mets to sag against Jake Arrieta in game two, especially at home with their raucous crowd behind them every step of the way.
Little did anyone know would they get a relatively big lead so early and set the pace in this game right out of the gate.
The Mets produced three immediate runs in the first inning thanks to a clutch RBI double from David Wright, followed by yet another home run by Daniel Murphy.
They scratched another run across in the third inning thanks to some crafty base running by Curtis Granderson and a roll of the dice by Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who decided the had seen enough of Murphy, and walked him intentionally for Yoenis Cespedes.
Granderson stole two bases in the frame and Cespedes drove him home with a little infield single for the fourth run of the inning.
That was more than enough for Noah Syndergaard and the Mets bullpen, as they more or less cruised and took advantage of some very, very long swings by the Cubs power bats and shut them down in the process.
It’s a good thing too, because Arrieta settled in. But it was too little, too late for the Cubs ace who just didn’t have that good command at all early on, and the Mets ate that up to get the runs they needed to secure game two and head to Chicago with a 2-0 NLCS lead.
The Grandy Man is doing it all.
Curtis Granderson can hit, he can run, and he can even make phenomenal, epic catches to save home runs in the playoffs.
In the second inning, he made a leaping catch to rob Chris Coghlan of a solo home run which would have made the score 3-1 and quieting the crowd in the process.
He then literally stole a run in the third inning when he drew a leadoff walk. He then stole second base when David Wright struck out swinging. Then, after the Cubs walked Daniel Murphy intentionally, Granderson then stole third. He then scored when Yoenis Cespedes notched an infield single.
Without that heads up and aggressive base running, perhaps the Mets don’t score that fourth run in the third inning.
In the playoffs, little things matter. And Granderson is doing all the little things to setup runs, prolong innings, build pitch counts, and create opportunities for other players.
He’s also producing.
In other words, he, like Murphy, is doing it all for the Mets this October.
It’s hard to even quantify or analyze Murphy’s performance in these playoffs so far.
Yes, the Mets already had a run in in the first inning, but he completely stunned Arrieta with yet another home run. He turned on one on a lazy off-speed pitch down, and Murphy hooked it around the right field fair pole for a two-run shot to give the Mets a mountain of a lead against one of baseball’s best pitchers.
He’s homered against Clayton Kershaw twice, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, and now Arrieta. All in a period of eight days and six games. That’s not easy to do, yet Murphy has done it, all in the playoffs.
He wasn’t the only offense on the night, but he certainly set the tone for the evening and got the crowd energized immediately, yet again.
If the Mets end up going to the World Series, they can certainly credit their starting pitching, but it seems like it will be Murphy carrying everyone on this roster on his shoulders right into the dance.
Syndergaard was phenomenal tonight, although he flamed out a little bit at the end with two outs in the sixth inning.
He had an electric fastball all night long with a ton of movement to both sides of the plate. His curveball was diving down and out of the strike zone, and he was also heads up in that he mixed his pitches up well, changed the program around the second and third time through, and often times pitched backwards to get big strikeouts.
He struck out four of five batters for the third out on Sunday.
His stuff played right into the Cubs weaknesses at the plate in that their big swings struggle to catch up to good fastballs. Syndergaard featured that good fastball and the Cubs really couldn’t figure him out, at least until the end when he walked Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant doubled him in with two outs in the sixth.
But Jon Niese – who is grieving the loss of his grandmother and will return home during the off-day tomorrow – did his job to bail Syndergaard out of the sixth against Anthony Rizzo by striking him out to end the Cubs threat and keep the Cubs lead at three.
Syndergaard has shown so much growth with each start he makes. If there’s one area he needs to work on, it’s his efficiency. But obviously, the stuff, the brains, and his mound presence are all there.
Once he gets that pitch count down, watch out, Major League Baseball.
The Mets are now up 2-0 in their best-of-seven NLCS against the Cubs.
This after not beating the Cubs at all during the regular season.
In NLCS history, 18 of 20 teams to go up 2-0 have won the pennant. What’s more, there have been 44 teams to go up 2-0 in LCS history since 1969 – they’ve won 39 of them.
The Mets became the fifth team in NLCS history to open a series with a 2-0 lead at home. All four of the teams to do that previously have gone to the World Series.
Since the LCS went to a best of seven format, teams that went up 2-0 are 22-3.
They’ve essentially forced the Cubs to come back to Citi Field to win the pennant at worst. The Mets can win the pennant by winning two out of three games at Wrigley Field this week.
By no means will the Mets take anything for granted. But needless to say, the Mets are in fantastic shape with Jacob deGrom on the mound Tuesday night in Chicago.
Other notes from Sunday:
Murphy’s fifth postseason home run ties a franchise record. He joined Mike Piazza as the only Met in franchise history to hit five home runs in a postseason.
Murphy has homered in four consecutive games. He is now 10-for-28 with five home runs and seven RBI in seven games in the playoffs.
Jeurys Familia recorded his fifth save in the playoffs with a scoreless ninth inning.
The Mets are now 29-14 all-time in New York during the postseason. The .644 home winning percentage is the best in baseball history.
Lucas Duda went 0-for-4 with two more strikeouts on Sunday. He is just 2-for-21 with 13 strikeouts in the playoffs.