Even the best pitchers sometimes have a bad day. In the Mets’ 10-7 loss to the Cubs, Noah Syndergaard just happened to pick the most inopportune time possible to have a bad day. It was an error by Amed Rosario that sparked the Cubs’ first-inning rally, but quickly it became abundantly clear that Syndergaard didn’t have it. With one out, he hit Nick Castellanos in the hand with a pitch and then gave up a single to Kris Bryant. Javy Baez then grounded into what should have been a force out at second, but Rosario made an errant throw to second base, allowing a run to score.
The Cubs simply ambushed Syndergaard after that. He gave up a ringing double to Kyle Schwarber, a bloop single to Addison Russell, and finally, a two-run homer by Ian Happ. It would be another single and a wild pitch before the inning mercifully came to an end, but the damage had been done and the Mets were down 6-0 early.
The Mets loaded the bases in the bottom of the first, thanks to back-to-back one out hits from J.D. Davis and Michael Conforto and a Pete Alonso hit by pitch. However, they were only able to scratch back one run on a Wilson Ramos bouncer to second, which he beat out at first to avoid a double play and score a run.
The Mets’ poor defense bit them again in the top of the second when miscommunication allowed a bloop off the bat of Kris Bryant drop between Rosario and Davis with neither taking charge on the play. Javy Baez grounded out to short for the first out, but then Kyle Schwarber blasted a two-run homer to put the Cubs further ahead 8-1. Syndergaard surrendered yet another two-run homer in the third inning, this time to Nick Castellanos and suddenly the Mets found themselves facing an impossible 10-1 deficit. Syndergaard’s final line on the night is ugly: ten runs—nine of them earned—on nine hits with one walk and five strikeouts in three innings of work. While his defense certainly did not help him out, it was still the worst start of Syndergaard’s career.
Paul Sewald replaced Syndergaard and gave the Mets two scoreless innings of work. In the bottom of the fourth, Wilson Ramos extended his hitting streak to 21 games with a single to lead off the inning. But he was doubled off first when Rosario lined into a 5-3 double play to end the inning.
The Mets did manage to put together a big inning in the fifth, however. With one out, Todd Frazier narrowly missed a home run, smacking a double off the wall in left field. Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis followed with back-to-back home runs to cut the Cubs’ lead to 10-4. Michael Conforto hit a single, but then Pete Alonso popped out for the second out. Hendricks let the inning balloon on him further by hitting Ramos with a pitch. Joe Panik then hit an opposite field single to score Conforto and bring the Mets within five. At that point, Joe Maddon had seen enough out of Hendricks and did not want to let the game get away. Hendricks came out of the game in favor of David Phelps. Phelps gave up one more single to Rosario to make the score 10-6 before getting out of the inning in the form of a Juan Lagares fly out. Lagares had put together a solid stretch of games when asked to start every day, but this was a rough night at the office for Juan, who left six men on base in total and went 0-for-5.
The Mets bullpen continued to roll, allowing the Mets to attempt the impossible. Brad Brach also delivered two scoreless innings of work in the sixth and seventh, allowing just a single to Tony Kemp, who was erased on a caught stealing. The Mets put men on base in each of the next three innings, but were unable to have another big inning to complete a comeback. In the seventh against Steve Cishek, Luis Guillorme worked out a walk as a pinch hitter with two outs. Rosario followed with a single, which prompted Maddon to once again change pitchers and bring in Rowan Wick. Again, Lagares flew out to end the rally.
Edwin Diaz struck out the side in the top of the eighth. After the game Mickey Callaway said that Diaz was “the best I’ve ever seen him,” citing the fact that he is now using Jacob deGrom’s slider grip. It was certainly an encouraging outing for Diaz and the slider appeared to be working. In the bottom of the frame, the Mets inched even closer. This time, it was the Cubs’ turn to have a defensive miscue, as the usual reliable Javy Baez made a terrible throw on a routine grounder to third by Frazier to allow him to reach first base safely. McNeil then smacked a double to advance Frazier to third with nobody out. J.D. Davis struck out swinging, but Conforto was able to make contact, grounding out to second to score Frazier and bring the Mets within three runs. Alonso flew out to center to end the inning and Wick was able to limit the damage.
Luis Avilan tossed a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to give the Mets one more shot in the bottom of the inning. They faced a very familiar pitcher in Craig Kimbrel, who has had issues with control as a Cub. Last night was no exception. Ramos led things off with a single up the middle. Kimbrel then walked the pinch hitter Rajai Davis to bring the tying run to the plate with nobody out. Rosario grounded out to second and Addison Russell took a risk by throwing to second to get the force out rather than get the sure out at first. But it paid off, as his quick throw beat Davis to the bag. Kimbrel bounced back to retire the next two batters—Lagares on a strikeout and Frazier on a fly out to right—and end the game, with the Mets falling short.
The Mets try to salvage their series with their ace on the mound, as Jacob deGrom faces off against Jon Lester with the Mets on the precipice of falling out of a tightly packed Wild Card race.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Jeff McNeil, +12.5% WPA
Big losers: Noah Syndergaard, -49.1% WPA, Juan Lagares, -12.1% WPA, J.D. Davis, -12% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -46.0% WPA
Total batter WPA: -4.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Rajai Davis walks to bring the tying run to the plate against Craig Kimbrel in the ninth, +8.8% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Amed Rosario’s error gets the Cubs’ rally started in the first, -13.3% WPA