On a blustery night with temps in the low 40s and several players wearing the equivalent of ski-masks on the field, Cubs starter Jake Arrieta stood on the mound wearing no sleeves.
Far from being intimidated, the Mets’ first three hitters of the game acted like Arrieta was wearing no pants.
It certainly started like a bad dream for the Cy Young candidate. Curtis Granderson smacked a liner through the shift to open things up. David Wright, who was 1-for-19 in the postseason coming in, rocked a ball over Dexter Fowler’s head for a double which brought home Granderson.
That brought up Daniel Murphy, who you, along the rest of the country, may have heard of by now. He crushed an 0-1 curve into the upper deck—just foul. Down 0-2, Murphy is just so locked in right now he was able to check his swing on a heater just off the plate. Arrieta’s next offering was a pretty nice low curve that Murphy golfed off his shoetops just inside the foul pole for a two-run homer.
He has now homered in four straight playoff games, and has five homers overall in seven such games. If you keep looking for the sides of your TV screen to be encroached upon by those wavy lines which signify "dream sequence"...you can stop now.
Even Ron got a little giddy, forgetting he was on TBS and calling the postseason MVP-to-date "Murph".
Arrieta had not allowed a first inning run in his last 26 starts dating back to May 29, and didn’t allow three runs in a regular-season game after July 25. Through the Wild Card game, he had allowed four earned runs in his previous 97 and 1/3rd innings. Welp, back to reality, I guess.
Meanwhile, Noah Syndergaard was rocking out to "Thunderstruck" blasting on replay across the PA system throughout his night. The lone hiccup early on was a long drive by Chris Coghlan in the second that had the distance to leave the park.
Granderson, who has often looked awkward going back on balls to the wall as a Met, took a route to the ball with 94% efficiency (according to StatCast), timing his leap perfectly by the right-field cut-out, and bringing it back. Ron noted it was the first homer-saving catch that the Grandyman has made in his two years here.
Aside from that, Thor had no problem navigating the wind gusts on his way to six K’s through three, alternating his finishing blow to get the punchouts. In order, he got Kyle Schwarber waving powerlessly at a change-up, then dropped Anthony Rizzo and Miguel Montero with sinkers, whiffed Javier Baez with a curve, and then ran four-seamers past Arrieta and Schwarber. He got up to 100 on the gun (according to Brooks Baseball) with impressive command, putting all concerns of his workload in Game 5 of the NLDS firmly out of mind.
In the bottom of the third, Granderson continued making like an MLB.tv condensed game (a whole game in a fraction of the time; no I am not an investor, just a client). He worked Arrieta for a lead-off walk, and stole second as Wright struck out on a nasty slider. Everyone, including Arrieta, was shocked when the call came in to intentionally walk Murphy to get to Yoenis Cespedes. No, you aren’t dreaming.
I take that back. Of course you are! And keep on dreaming, dreamer!
Granderson then got a huge jump and stole third, which let him score on Cespedes’ bouncer to short, which became an infield hit instead of a possible play at third. Effective small-ball runs three games in a row? We ARE dreaming after all!
Lucas Duda is still not in on the dream, though. He looks utterly lost, watching a hittable first-pitch whizz by in each of his three nightmare at-bats tonight. He popped out to help quash the third-inning charge, and struck out in his other two trips to the plate. Let’s hope the unparalleled streakiness that he’s exhibited this year means it’s nearly time for him to Hulk out after a couple of weeks of puny Banner (2 for his last 31 including the end of the regular season).
Nearing 100 pitches in the sixth, Syndergaard finally faltered on his third time through the order. Dexter Fowler walked with one out and got to second on a wild pitch, a sizzler that was just too hot for Travis d’Arnaud to handle. He hung the hat trick on Schwarber with his third K of the young slugger, but gave up a double off the fence to Kris Bryant which scored Fowler.
Enter Jon Niese as LOOGY(?!). Well, evidently Terry Collins does know what he’s doing: Rizzo was hitting .118 against Niese before striking out on a full-count 94-MPH fastball (!) to end the last real threat either side would pose.
Which is fine by us. The bullpen looked like it was meant to and summarily turned hearts and minds to Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
As AA comenter cpins pointed out, teams that have gone up 2-0 have won 22 of the last 25 NLCS. Perhaps more vitally, this was pointed out about Biff Tannen’s favorite team to bet on in 2015:
Cubs fans, Back To The Future 2 also predicted we would still use fax machines. Sooo... #lgm— SEAN O'CONNOR (@seanoconnz) October 19, 2015
Putting fiction in its place and laying down cold hard facts on a cold, hard night in which Mets fans assuredly slept warm.
…If they could sleep at all, what with the lightning of Thor and the amped-uppedness and Babe Murph and the Love the Mets and the LGM!!!!!!!
SB Nation GameThreads
* Bleed Cubbie Blue GameThread
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Noah Syndergaard, +13.4% WPA; Daniel Murphy, +12.6% WPA; David Wright, +11.7% WPA
Big losers: NONE in the Metsosphere right now
Teh aw3s0mest play: David Wright's RBI double to open the scoring in the first, +13.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Kris Bryant's RBI double in the sixth, -4.2% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +24.8WPA
Total batter WPA: +25.2% WPA
GWRBI!: Babe Murph