The Mets took their second straight NLCS game from the Cubs who had beaten them 7 out of 7 in the regular season. The Mets won 4-1 behind Noah Syndergaard on the mound and Daniel Murphy’s team record setting performance on offense.
The Mets’ fans had many questions as the game began. Would Syndergaard pitch at his best following his first ever relief appearance last week in Los Angeles? How would the Mets’ bats do against the prohibitive favorite for the NL Cy Young Award, the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta? Would slumping David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes and Lucas Duda help the cause? Syndergaard answered the first question early, striking out two of the 3 men he retired in the first. Then the Mets’ bats went to work. Nobody since the Royals back in May had gotten a run off Arrieta in the first inning. The Mets got 3. Curtis Granderson led off with a single to right. David Wright who had struggled mightily against the Dodgers and Cubs hit a booming double to center driving home Granderson. Then Daniel Murphy broke the Mets’ record by hitting his fifth home run this postseason. The most home runs in any postseason was 8 by Barry Bonds in 2002, and with the Mets off to Wrigley Field nothing seems impossible. The Mets only got two more hits all night long. But defense and pitching were enough to make the lead seem insurmountable. In the second, Curtis Granderson made a leaping catch in right to take a home run away from Chris Coghlan. In the home third, Granderson walked and stole two bases, then scored on an infield hit by Yoenis Cespedes. On his 30th birthday Cespedes, known for cannon shot home runs got the least likely of hits to make it 4-0. That hit and Wright’s double were the only hits those two players got, and Lucas Duda didn’t get a hit all night. Nobody from the fifth spot in the order down got a hit. However, With that 4-0 bulge Syndergaard continued to get the job done. He struck out 9 before leaving with two out in the sixth after giving up the only run the Cubs got. Jonathan Niese, Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia kept the Cubs’ vaunted bats quiet to seal the win for the Flushing 9.
Much has been made of the name Murphy as it is associated with the Cubs’ “Curse of the Billygoat.” If the legend is to believed, a farmer tried to bring his goat named Murphy into one of the games of the 1945 World Series. Even with the less stringent security rules of the day, Murphy was not allowed to watch the game. Farmer and goat left and the Cubs haven’t sniffed a World Series since. The Mets’ radio crew pointed out that in 1969 when the Cubs had a chance and lost out to the MEts, the lead announcer for the Mets was the immortal Bob Murphy_. In 1984, after taking a 2-0 NLCS lead over the Padres at Wrigley, they lost the last 3 games at Jack Murphy_ Stadium in San Diego, which was named for Bob Murphy’s brother. And who should bedevil the Cubs in the first two games? None other than Daniel Murphy_. When the Jacksonville, Florida native steps to the plate his walk-up music is by the DropKick Murphys, a Massachusetts punk band. Right now, the question getting Mets’ fans collective goat is why the Mets aren’t looking at bringing the 30-year-old Murphy back next year. He can play first second and third. Considering David Wright’s injury-prone status it seems a necessity to keep Murphy.
Now it’s off to Wrigley Field for the Cubs and Mets. While the ALCS game is the only game tonight, the NLCS resumes tomorrow night. The Mets will pitch Jacob DeGrom against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. That will be followed by game 4 Wednesday night, where as of now it looks to be Stephen Matz for the Mets against Jason Hammel of the Cubs. Tonight’s game seems to be the best pitching matchup the ALCS can offer, and it’s the Jays’ return to Rogers Center after the unseemly display by the fans there last Wednesday. The Jays will throw Marcus Stroman, whose knee injury in spring training should have kept him on the shelf until 2016. The Royals counter with Johnny Cueto, their acquisition from the Reds at the trading deadline. While he was largely a disappointment in the regular season, he shut down the Astros when he was most needed-in the last game of the ALDS. This is Jose Bautista’s 35th birthday. The Royals who lead the series 2-0 hope to keep Joe Bats and the other Jays’ bats quiet for two more games. After tonight, game 4 and 5 will be at 4:07 PM tomorrow and Wednesday.0