Price Undone by Teammates; Dark Knight Introduces Cubs Bats to Mr. Freeze

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Two of the game’s best pitchers were on top of their game yesterday as the two league championship series continued.  One, Matt Harvey of the Mets chalked up a win, the other David Price of Toronto  should have but his teammates undid his best effort.

Saturday’s  early game was the second game of the ALCS. The Royals had registered an easy win the night before. The Royals’ 6-3 win in game 2 is what the Jays will think about if they don’t come back and win the ALCS.  This one belonged to them. Their hit man, David Price who came from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline had only given up one hit all day until the 8th inning. The only hit was a leadoff single by Alcides Escobar.  Price’s Jays  had built him a 3-0 lead to work with by scoring a run in the 4th and 2 in the 6th chasing Royals’ starter Yordano Ventura. But in the home half of the 7th everything fell apart for Price. Ben Zobrist hit a pop fly. Second baseman Ryan Goins went out to get it,  Jose Bautista came in from right, and the ball was caught by …   neither one. A base hit in the score book but clearly a ball that should have been caught. From there it was off to the races for the home standing Royals. Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer singled and it was 3-1. Kendrys Morales drove in Cain on an infield grounder. Mike Moustakas singled home the tying run Hosmer. Surprisingly David Price was still out there with no help from what is a very good Blue Jays bull pen. After Salvador Perez struck out for the second out of the inning, Alex Gordon doubled  home Moustakas to give the Royals a lead they wouldn’t give back. At last Aaron Sanchez came in for Price but it was too late and he didn’t help the cause. He gave up a single to Alex Rios to drive in Gordon making it 5-3. Kansas City put up another in the 8th for a 6-3 final. The teams head to Toronto for game 3 on Monday night. The Jays will need another miracle from Marcus Stroman, their miracle man in residence if they are to get back into the series.

As that game ended, game 1 of the NLCS began at a frigid Citi Field in New York. The temperature was a reasonable  48 degrees, but the wind howling off Flushing Bay made it seem barely above freezing to the 44,287 who wore their winter gear to cheer on their Mets to a 4-2 win over the Cubs. Starter Matt Harvey, from nearby Mystic, CT. showed no ill effects from the cold and the wind.  From the first, the pitcher known as the Dark Knight  was throwing smoke, striking out 2 of the first 3 Cubs hitters he saw. He would strike out 9 before leaving the hill.  The Mets drew first blood in their half of the first as Daniel Murphy drilled a home run off Cubs’ starter John Lester. It was the third postseason game in a row in which he hit a home run, matching a franchise record. Don Clendenon had been the first Met to do that, in 1969. Murphy also joined Mike Piazza, Rusty Staub and Carlos Delgado with 4 postseason home runs in a single year,  the franchise high.

From there Cubs starter John Lester and Harvey matched zeros.  Harvey retired the first dozen Cubs he saw until hitting Anthony Rizzo with a pitch to start the visiting fifth. The next batter Starlin Castro cranked a double deep to center to tie the game. After Jorge Soler grounded to third, Javier Baez singled to left. In the turning point of the game, Castro headed to the plate. Yoenis Cespedes, who has done nothing with his bat during the postseason threw a strike to the plate and Castro never had a chance. That left the game tied halfway along. The Mets had an immediate answer in their half of the fifth. With one out, both Wilmer Flores and Juan Lagares singled to left center. Although Harvey’s grounder resulted in Flores being thrown out at third, Curtis Granderson gave the Mets the lead with a single to center.  In the home sixth Travis D’Arnaud crashed a mighty home run to dead center field to pad the Mets’ lead. They made it 4-1 an inning later. Juan Lagares opened with a single and was sacrificed to second by Matt Harvey. After he stole third, Granderson was able to drive in Lagares with a scoring fly ball. Harvey got the first two men out in the 8th before a mammoth home run by Kyle Schwarber made it 4-2. That ended Harvey’s night after 7 and two thirds-the longest playoff outing by a Mets’ starter since Al Leiter went 8 and two thirds in the World Series in 2000. Manager Terry Collins went directly to Jeurys Familia. While he walked a man in the 8th and gave up a hit in the 9th, a great play by daniel Murphy at second ended the game with the Mets winning 4-2.

On a day dominated by football, the Mets and Cubs will be the only playoff game, and it will be another night game at Citi Field. And it’s the kind of matchup that makes it hard to wait until the 8:07 start time. The Mets start rookie phenom Noah Syndergaard against the 22-game winner of the Cubs, Jake Arrieta. arrieta’s credentials are clear to all. The question heard on talk radio and seen in social media this morning is, will Syndergaard have the mix of different pitches to stop the Cubs, as good a fastball hitting team as there is.

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