Mets take advantage of Cubs’ mistakes, take 3-0 series lead at Wrigley
CHICAGO — Daniel Murphy is a contact hitter known for shaky fielding and occasionally getting lost on the bases.
This playoff impersonation of Babe Ruth,
Roberto Alomar and Derek Jeter all rolled into one, he can’t explain
it. Nor can his manager.
"Question is, who is this guy?" skipper Terry Collins said.
Murphy homered in his record-tying fifth
straight postseason game, Jacob deGrom pitched seven strong innings and
the New York Mets beat the Chicago Cubs 5-2 Tuesday night for a 3-0
lead in the NL Championship Series.
"I’ve watched a lot of baseball over the
years, I don’t think I’ve seen anybody put on this kind of a show on
this stage like he has so far," Collins said. "I mean, even the guys in
the dugout, they’re baseball guys, too, and they’re saying the same
A cluster of New York fans gathered in
the rain behind their team’s dugout after the final out and chanted
"Let’s go, Mets!" And with a win Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, the
Mets will be going to their first World Series in 15 years.
Rookie Steven Matz gets the start for New York in Game 4 while Jason Hammel goes for the Cubs.
Murphy tied the homer mark set by Houston’s Carlos Beltran in 2004 with his drive off Kyle Hendricks in the third.
Murphy’s home run was his sixth of the
postseason in his 30th at-bat — he’s hit just 62 in 3,354 at-bats in the
regular season. The free agent-to-be second baseman also is making
sharp plays in the field and showing heads-up, aggressive instincts
running the bases.
"I wish I could explain it," said
Murphy, who hit a career-high 14 homers in the regular season. "I would
have done it like six years ago. I can’t explain it."
After going 0-7 against the Cubs during the regular season, New York is overpowering them with its arms and bats.
Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright each
had three hits for the Mets. Cespedes scored the go-ahead run on a
two-out wild pitch by Trevor Cahill on a strikeout of Michael Conforto
in the sixth inning.
DeGrom followed up dominant starts by
Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard in New York with one of his own. The NL
Rookie of the Year held the Cubs’ big bats to just two runs and four
hits. He struck out seven, walked one and retired his final 11 batters.
The righty with the flowing hair
improved to 3-0 in his first postseason, with all of the wins coming on
the road. Jeurys Familia closed for his fifth save of the postseason.
Kyle Schwarber had the towel-waving
crowd shaking 101-year old Wrigley Field to its foundation in the first
inning with his club-record fifth homer of the postseason. Jorge Soler
also had them roaring with his solo drive in the fourth. But manager Joe
Maddon’s Cubs have just five runs in this series.
Barring an epic comeback, a World
Series drought that dates to 1908 will continue. Only one other team has
won a playoff series after dropping the first three games.
Theo Epstein’s Red Sox came back
against the New York Yankees in the 2004 AL Championship Series and
ultimately ended one long championship curse. Now, the team he
constructed in Chicago, that stirred the imaginations of long-suffering
fans, finds itself in a similar spot.
"Of course you think about those
things, you think about the parallels, think about the fact that that
happened against a New York team," said Maddon, whose team posted the
majors’ third best record and came into this series on a 12-1 tear. "We
think about all that stuff, but it’s up to us to go out and play and
Cespedes broke a 2-all tie after he led
off the sixth with a single against Cahill. He stole third and scored
with two out as Conforto swung at a 2-2 pitch in the dirt. The ball
rolled to the backstop, allowing the runner to reach first and extending
Conforto was forced to stay at third
when Wilmer Flores’ drive rolled to the ivy in right field was called a
ground-rule double. That drew a heated argument from Collins, who came
back out to protest some more after he returned to the dugout.
The Mets added two more runs in the seventh to make it 5-2.
Hendricks went four innings for Chicago, allowing two runs and five hits.
"This is not the spot where we want to be, but we’re here and we’ve got to face it," Schwarber said.
Never before had the Cubs played this
late on the calendar at Wrigley Field, and the place was rocking when
Schwarber tied it at 1 with his solo homer to left-center in the first.
It wasn’t quite as impressive as the
shot he hit to the top of the right-field videoboard that helped knock
out St. Louis in Game 4 of the NLDS. That ball got encased by the Cubs
where it settled.
Still, Schwarber broke the franchise record set by Alex Gonzalez and Aramis Ramirez in 2003.
Murphy made it 2-1 in the third with
his drive to center off Hendricks. Besides tying Beltran’s record, he
also set a Mets mark with his sixth postseason homer.
The Mets are the fifth team to win the
first three in the NLCS since it went to a seven-game format in 1985,
along with Colorado in 2007, Atlanta in 1999, San Diego in 1998 and
Atlanta in 1995. New York had never led any postseason series 3-0.
Mets: Collins said RHP Matt Harvey was
feeling "a lot better" and thinks his ace will be ready for Game 5, if
necessary. Harvey was struck near his pitching shoulder by a comebacker
in the series opener, leading to some swelling.
Mets: Matz looks to rebound from a loss
to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 4 of the NL Division Series against
the Dodgers. The rookie will also be making his first appearance at
Wrigley Field — and his first against the Cubs.
Cubs: After tossing three innings in
the clinching Game 4 of the NLDS against St. Louis, Hammel will try to
extend the season.