The latest on the League Championship Series. The Royals rallied to beat the Blue Jays 6-3 and take a 2-0 series lead on Saturday. The Mets are hosting the Cubs in the opener of the NL best-of-seven. Here’s a look at what’s happening (all times EDT):
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Kyle Schwarber chased Mets starter Matt Harvey with a 459-foot home run into the right-center field bullpen, cutting the Cubs’ deficit to 4-2 in the eighth inning.
Schwarber’s home run left him hitting .471 in the postseason. He has homered in three straight games, tying Alex Gonzalez’s Chicago postseason record, and has four home runs overall in the playoffs.
Harvey allowed two runs and four hits in 7 2-3 innings with nine strikeouts and two walks. Jeurys Familia relieved and finished the inning without further scoring.
Curtis Granderson’s sacrifice fly boosted the Mets’ lead over the Cubs to 4-1 in the seventh inning.
Juan Lagares singled leading off, took second on Matt Harvey’s sacrifice and swiped third, the second stolen base off runner-challenged Chicago starter Jon Lester. Granderson’s fly to left brought home Lagares and chased Lester, who allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Harvey gave up three hits through seven innings, struck out nine, walked two and was still in the game. He stayed in the game despite getting hit on the right shoulder by a line drive off the bat of Dexter Fowler in the sixth.
Travis d’Arnaud homered off Jon Lester in the sixth inning, a 431-foot drive that clanked off New York’s celebratory home run apple in the black batter’s eye beyond the center-field fence, giving the Mets a 3-1 lead over the Chicago Cubs.
Lester left an 89 mph slider over the plate, and d’Arnaud’s drive easily cleared the 408-foot sign in center.
Curtis Granderson put the New York Mets back ahead of the Chicago Cubs 2-1 with a soft RBI single against Jon Lester in the fifth inning.
Wilmer Flores and Juan Lagares singled with one out and Mets pitcher Matt Harvey bunted. Anthony Rizzo charged in and threw to third for a forceout, and Kris Bryant attempted to throw to first for what would have been an inning-ending double play. But the rookie third baseman dropped the ball as he tried to pull it out of his glove.
Granderson lofted a single into short center on an 0-2 pitch, sending home Lagares with the go-ahead run.
Lester then threw a called third strike past David Wright.
Chicago’s Starlin Castro hit an RBI double off Matt Harvey in the fifth inning on a ball that center fielder Juan Lagares didn’t judge well, tying the New York Mets 1-1 in the NL Championship Series opener on Saturday night.
Harvey retired his first 12 batters before hitting Anthony Rizzo on the arm with a 91 mph fastball leading off the fifth. Castro drove the next pitch to center and Lagares either did not see it well or had trouble judging it in the wind. Lagares ran back and jumped, but the ball went over his glove as Rizzo scored from first.
Javier Baez singled to left with one out and Castro tried to score but was thrown out easily by Yoenis Cespedes despite an off-line throw to the first-base side of home plate. Baez stole second and went to third as Travis d’Arnaud’s throw skipped into center for an error, but Harvey fanned David Ross for his seventh strikeout.
David Wright walked leading off the fourth and stole second – his first steal since April 14 when he injured his right hamstring while swiping second in the eighth inning of a game against Philadelphia. Wright developed spinal stenosis during his rehabilitation and did not return until Aug. 24.
Lester allowed 44 steals during the regular season, seven more than any other major league pitcher. He escaped trouble by striking out Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes, then retiring Travis d’Arnaud on a popup to short right, leaving the Cubs trailing the Mets 1-0 after four innings.
Matt Harvey retired his first 12 batters, striking out six, and threw 32 of 44 pitches for strikes.
Matt Harvey retired his first nine batters, striking out five of them, and the Mets led the Cubs 1-0 after three innings.
Harvey did not allow a ball out of the infield and threw 23 of 29 pitches for strikes.
Cubs starter Jon Lester gave up two hits through three innings, one them of Daniel Murphy’s first-inning homer. Lester threw 27 of 44 pitches for strikes.
Daniel Murphy homered into the right field second deck off Jon Lester in the first inning, giving the New York Mets a 1-0 lead over the Chicago Cubs in the NL Championship Series opener on Saturday night.
Murphy sent an 87 mph cutter 386 feet for his fourth postseason homer. Murphy has three homers against left-handers during the postseason; he had one during the regular season.
With home runs in three straight postseason games, Murphy tied the Mets record set by Donn Clendenon in 1969.
Meanwhile, New York’s Matt Harvey retired his first six batters, throwing 13 of 16 pitches for strikes.
There was a chill in the air at the Mets’ Citi Field for the NL Championship Series opener against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night.
The game time temperature was 48 degrees, with a wind blowing in from left field at 15 mph. Some players wore hoodies and ski caps for the introductions, and Chicago manager Joe Maddon, who has a cold, wore gloves.
After wearing their alternate blue jerseys and beating Los Angeles in Game 3 of the Division Series, the Mets’ reverted to their traditional white, pinstriped uniform for Game 4 and lost.
For Saturday night’s NL Championship Series opener against the Chicago Cubs, the Mets were back in their blue jerseys.
The Cubs and Mets have never met in the playoffs before, but they share some memorable history.
Back in 1969, the Miracle Mets overcame a large August deficit to rally past the Cubs – aided, some say, by an ominous black cat that strolled in front of Chicago’s dugout and near third baseman Ron Santo in the on-deck circle at Shea Stadium.
Legend or not, New York went on to win the NL East and an improbable World Series championship.
As the teams prepared Friday for Game 1 of the NLCS, both managers and several young players were asked what they knew or remembered about the `69 pennant race.
Cubs slugger Kris Bryant was unaware of the story.
”I have a black cat at home,” he said. ”No superstitions.”
When Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein arrived at Citi Field on Friday for the workout ahead of the NL Championship Series, he thought back to when he was 12 years old and the Red Sox were at Shea Stadium for Game 6 and came within a strike of winning the World Series.
”My twin brother and I were watching that game together. We decided we didn’t want to be connected to the earth when the last out went into the glove, so we stood on top of our parent’s house with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning,” he said Saturday. ”We were going to jump off when that last out went into the glove. We were on that roof for about 25 minutes. Ended up like pathetically tumbling to the ground. Just sat there for half an hour.”
That was the night Mookie Wilson’s grounder rolled through Bill Buckner’s legs, capping a three-run 10th inning for the Mets and a 6-5 win in Game 6. Sunday’s game was rained out, and Epstein went to school Monday.
New York overcame a three-run, sixth-inning deficit to win Game 7 by 8-5.
Pickoff throws are Jon Lester’s own curious kryptonite.
With the Chicago Cubs left-hander getting set to start Game 1 of the NL Championship Series, it will be interesting to see if the New York Mets can take advantage of his well-documented trouble holding runners.
”Koufax didn’t do a good job, either, with guys on base because nobody ever got on, and Jon Lester is a similar guy. You’ve got to get on to steal, and we don’t have a lot of speed,” Mets manager Terry Collins said Friday. ”You get on against Jon Lester and you start stealing with guys who aren’t real good at stealing, you run yourself out of innings.”
Lester is so uncomfortable throwing over to first base, he went nearly two years without doing it. He finally tried a couple of pickoff attempts on April 13 against Cincinnati and threw the second away for an error.
He didn’t try another one until Aug. 13 and threw that one away, too.
Not coincidentally, Lester permitted more stolen bases (44) than any other pitcher in the majors this season, according to STATS.
Wade Davis puts the first two runners on in the 9th but finishes off the Royals’ 6-3 win over the Blue Jays for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven ALCS. Game 3 is in Toronto on Monday night.
Next up: Cubs vs. Mets at Citi Field. Jon Lester takes the mound for Chicago and Matt Harvey for New York.
The Royals finally broke through against David Price, rallying to take the lead in the seventh by batting around. The surge started when Ben Zobrist hit a shallow pop fly to right that second baseman Ryan Goins, running back, appeared to call for. Jose Bautista started to slow up but Goins, perhaps distracted by the loud crowd noise, stopped and slid to the ground as if he was ceding to the outfielder. Instead, the ball fell in for the Royals’ first hit since Alcides Escobar singled to lead off the first.
Eric Hosmer, Kendry Morales, Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon each drove in a run before Price was pulled. Alex Rios drove in one more run with a single off Aaron Sanchez for a 5-3 lead.
Now, it’s on to the Royals’ shutdown bullpen.
The Blue Jays’ David Price has recorded 18 consecutive outs since Alcides Escobar’s double on the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning of Game 2 of the ALCS.
Lest anyone think he’s wearing down, Price struck out the side in the sixth.
The star turn by the big left-hander is somewhat surprising given Price had been 0-6 in his previous six postseason starts. He did pick up a pair of wins in relief.
In fact, he was so pedestrian in allowing five runs in the opening game of the divisional round that manager John Gibbons used him in relief later in the series. That is why Price was pitching in Game 2 of the ALCS rather than in Friday night’s opener.
Then again, he’s 2-0 in six games against the Royals, including the five-hitter that he tossed against their lefty-heavy lineup on May 2 when he was still with Detroit.
With some help from his defense, Yordano Ventura has been stingy for Kansas City in Game 2 of the ALC. In fact, the Royals’ best defensive play didn’t even count.
Josh Donaldson skied a popup behind home plate leading off the sixth, and it banged into the wire holding up the netting that protects the fans. Salvador Perez was tracking it the whole way, then adjusted when the ball hit the wire and made the catch with his bare hand.
Only problem? The ball hitting the wire is declared a foul.
Donaldson wound up hitting an infield single moments later. He scored on Edwin Encarnacion’s single as the Blue Jays took a 3-0 lead behind some superb pitching from David Price.
The Blue Jays finally ended the scoreless innings streak by Royals pitchers at 18.
Kevin Pillar doubled off Yordano Ventura leading off the third inning, and Ryan Goins followed with a double down the left-field line, giving Toronto a 1-0 in Game 2 of the ALCS.
The Blue Jays nearly ended the streak an inning earlier.
Edwin Encarnacion and Chris Colabello led off with singles. After struggling Troy Tulowitzki struck out, Russell Martin hit a scorcher up the middle. Alcides Escobar managed to snag it at shortstop with a diving catch, then doubled Colabello off second base to end the inning.
David Price was cruising through three innings for Toronto, allowing just a single by Escobar leading off the game.
Shadows are pretty severe in front of the mound at Kauffman Stadium in the first inning of Game 2 of the ALCS with the late afternoon start. It’s g making for some tough at-bat for hitters against the Royals’ hard-throwing Yordano Ventura and Blue Jays’ David Price.
Ventura reached 99 mph in a perfect first.
Rookie Noah Syndergaard will start for the New York Mets in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday night.
Syndergaard threw 17 pitches in the seventh inning Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the final game of the NL Division Series, the first relief appearance of his big league career, and warmed up four times before coming in.
New York manager Terry Collins waited until Saturday to announce his decision, wanting to make sure Syndergaard was not sore.
Collins said rookie left-hander Steven Matz, his Game 4 starter, will be available out of the bullpen this weekend.
Jacob deGrom, who won twice in the Division Series, is set to start Game 3.
Super-fan and Hall of Fame golfer Tom Watson, dressed in a Royals jacket, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Kansas City played Toronto in Game 2 of the ALCS.
It was a strike because, well, everything thrown by anyone in Royals gear these days seems to be a strike. They entered the game on a franchise-record 16-inning scoreless streak.
It began with a superb outing by Johnny Cueto in the winner-take-all Game 5 of their Divisional Series against Houston, and continued with a 5-0 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night.
Edinson Volquez and three relievers combined on the three-hitter.
Mets slugger Lucas Duda is slumping, and now he is sitting. The left-handed-swinging first baseman was held out of the starting lineup for Game 1 of the NL Championship Series against Cubs lefty Jon Lester.
Duda, prone to prolonged slumps and big surges this season when he hit 27 homers, went 2 for 18 with 11 strikeouts in the Division Series against the Dodgers. He played all five games, including three against left-handed starters.
Mets manager Terry Collins said Duda will be back in the lineup Sunday against right-hander Jake Arrieta.
”We’ve got to get him going,” Collins said.
Michael Cuddyer will make his 16th start at first base this year. He last was in the lineup for Game 1 of the Division Series and struggled defensively in left field. He was 0 for 4 in the series, with two plate appearances as a pinch hitter.
”I thought we need to get Michael in there today,” Collins said.
Cuddyer is familiar with Lester from their days in the American League and is 5 for 19 vs. the left-hander.
”Today in our scouts meeting, Michael Cuddyer, believe me, will speak up, because he has a good idea,” Collins said. ”Michael’s seen him, he knows how to face him. So we thought today would be a good matchup for him.”
Royals starter Yordano Ventura will have the familiar figure of Salvador Perez behind home plate against the Blue Jays in Game 2 of the ALCS.
Perez was ill for part of the divisional round, then took a bat off the back of his glove hand in the ALCS opener. Royals trainer Nick Kenney checked on Perez during that game, but the affable catcher decided to remain in the rest of the way.
Still, there was some question whether Drew Butera might get the start Saturday.
”The toughest guy I ever saw was Jason Kendall and Sal is right there with him,” Royals manager Ned Yost said of the longtime big league catcher. ”It’s just amazing the beating that he can take and rebound every day, being in that lineup.”
Perez, a three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, hit his third homer of the postseason in the Royals 5-0 win on Friday night.
Toronto manager John Gibbons said Edwin Encarnacion is back in Toronto’s lineup for Game 2 of the ALCS, determined to ”deal with the pain.”
Batting fourth as the DH, Encarnacion was removed in the eighth inning of Kansas City’s 5-0 win on Friday night when his left middle finger swelled up again. Gibbons said Encarnacion underwent an MRI before deciding to play on Saturday.
”A normal game, he wouldn’t be in there,” Gibbons said. ”But we need him, so he’s in there. He’ll battle through it.”
Encarnacion, who hit 39 home runs and had 111 RBIs for the East Division champs, has struggled with the finger much of the year, missing games in August and September. Justin Smoak pinch hit in the eighth inning and popped up with two runners on base.
”Edwin’s a big part of our team,” said Toronto outfielder Kevin Pillar. ”Any time he’s in the lineup we’re a better team. It’s something he’s dealt with throughout the year. He probably wouldn’t be playing if it wasn’t a postseason game. But Edwin is truly passionate and wants to win and he’s going to do whatever it takes to get ready to play today.”
The Chicago Cubs have added speedy outfielder Quintin Berry to their roster for the NL Championship Series against the New York Mets.
Berry replaces rookie shortstop Addison Russell, who strained his left hamstring during Game 3 of the NL Division Series against St. Louis.
Berry is 27 for 28 in stolen-base attempts during his big league career. He was on the roster for the wild-card game win at Pittsburgh, then was replaced by pitcher Jason Hammel for the Division Series.
New York also made one change Saturday, adding left-hander Sean Gilmartin in place of right-hander Erik Goeddel, who allowed three singles and a home run without getting an out in Game 3 of the Division Series against Los Angeles.