Monday, October 19, 2015

Syndergaard and Mets top Arrieta and Cubs, take 2-0 series lead

METS 4
CUBS 1
NYM lead series 2-0

Heading into the postseason all the Mets heard was how Clayton Kershaw and Zack Grienke would dominate them in the Division Series. The Mets found a way to beat both Kershaw and Grienke in order to advance the the NLCS. Once they did that they had another immovable object in their way in the form of Cubs ace Jake Arrieta. 

The numbers indicated that Arrieta would dominate the Mets like he did everyone else. He came into Game 2 of the NLCS riding a personal 13-game winning streak. The Cubs hadn't lost a game in which Arrieta started since July 25, and the right hander allowed two runs or less in 14 of his last 15 starts, all of them wins. 

On Sunday night, all that good feeling came to a screeching halt thanks to a three-run first inning by the Mets that propelled New York to a 4-1 win, and a 2-0 series advantage. 

New York knew that if they were to get to Arrieta, they had better do so early. A lead-off single by Curtis Granderson, was followed by a RBI double to center field by David Wright to make it 1-0, Mets. Next, Daniel Murphy added to his outstanding postseason resume with a long two-run home run to right to hand the Mets a 3-0 lead on Arrieta. 

For Murphy it was his fifth postseason home run, tying him with Mike Piazza for the most homers in a postseason. Piazza hit five bombs in the 1999 playoffs. What made the homer even more amazing is that Murphy almost homered on a straight fastball by Arrierta two pitches earlier in the at bat. Clearly the potential Cy Young Award winner didn't have it. 

The three run lead was more than enough for Noah Syndergaard who baffled the powerful Cubs over five and two-thirds innings. He struck out Kyle Schwarber three times, and held Anthony Rizzo hitless in two at bats. Overall, the right-hander struck out nine Cub batters, the second time this postseason that Syndergaard fanned nine hitters in a start. 

The Mets did tack on some insurance for Syndergaard in the bottom of the third, when Yoenis Cespedes broke a long slump with an infield single, scoring Granderson to make it 4-0. 

And speaking of Granderson, he made a tremendous catch in right field when he jumped to the top of the right field wall, and robbed Chris Coghlan of a sure home run in the fifth inning to preserve the shoutout.

Syndergaard did get into a little bit of trouble in the sixth inning when he gave up a RBI double to Kris Bryant, forcing Terry Collins to pull him with two out. Jon Niese came in and struck out Rizzo on a 3-2 pitch inside and low on a slider to get out of the inning. 

The Mets bullpen was tremendous in the victory. Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard pitched shutout innings in relief, setting it up for Jeurys Familia who worked around a Lucas Duda error at first base to get out of trouble and retire the Cubs in the ninth.

For Familia the save was his fourth of the postseason. 

So far this postseason, all three of the Mets stud young pitchers have won a game in October, and they will send Jacob deGrom to the hill on Tuesday in Chicago for Game 3. 

Meanwhile, Murphy continues to play unconscious, as he is hitting .429 and riding a seven game hitting streak. The good news for the Mets is that both Wright and Cespedes got into the action as well. Wright was 1-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI, and could have been 2-for-4 were it not for a liner being caught by Bryant at third. Cespedes was 1-for-4 with a RBI, and narrowly hit an opposite field home run to right, before Coghlan made a play on it. If those two get going for the Mets as this series shifts to Chicago, watch out.

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