The Mets entered Chicago having won their last two series, and while the bats have still been quiet, there were some positive signs over the weekend that, perhaps, the offense was on the upswing. Tonight’s 3-1 loss to the Cubs made that look less likely, as the Mets wasted a number of opportunities to drive in runs, and with a good chunk of the team looking flat out lost at the plate.
Taijuan Walker started the game for the Mets, and continued his early season trend of looking good early, followed by a quick decline once the pitch count gets up around 70. Walker’s (lack of) control was on display early, starting off his game with a walk to Ian Happ. However, Walker was able to work around it with strikeouts to Willson Contreras and Kris Bryant.
Walker struck out two in the second as well, and looked strong in the third. What did not look strong in the third was J.D. Davis’s arm. After issuing a walk to Eric Sogard (who was not originally in the lineup), a sacrifice bunt by pitcher Jake Arrieta, and a strike out to Happ, Walker induced a ground ball from Contreras that Davis double clutched on, losing the play at first. Sogard never stopped running, and scored from second base on the error.
Walker’s fourth inning took a dramatic downward turn after getting two quick outs. A single and a stolen base to Jason Heyward started the slide, followed quickly by a Sogard single that played Heyward. Walker then walked Arritta, Happ, and Contreras to bring in the third run of the game. That was all she wrote for Walker, who threw 91 pitches over three and two-thirds innings, striking out seven and walking six. He was also ejected for good measure after arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire John Libka. Luis Rojas would join him a few innings later, arguing (not really arguable) balls and strikes during a Michael Conforto at-bat.
Arrieta looked pretty good tonight, limiting the Mets to a couple of walks in the second, a Dominic Smith single in the fourth inning, and an absolute bomb to Davis, in an attempt to atone for his defensive sins, in the fifth. The Mets got a few more chances in the fifth as pinch hitter Jonathan Villar singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch and Francisco Lindor walked. However, Arrieta would finish out the fifth inning unscathed.
Both bullpens started strong, with Robert Gsellman finishing out the fourth inning on a strikeout of Anthony Rizzo. Jacob Barnes, who had been roughed up in his first two appearances, pitched two scoreless innings of relief, especially as the first batter he faced, Kris Bryant, reached first on J.D. Davis’s second throwing error of the game. Jeurys Familia and Trevor May threw scoreless innings as well.
Rex Brothers, Brandon Workman, and Andrew Chafin allowed just two baserunners across the sixth, seventh, and eigth innings, which were an infield single by Davis and a bloop single from Smith.
Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for the Cubs and, despite walking Jeff McNeil and James McCann, and giving up a single to pinch-hitter Luis Guillorme, Kimbrel didn’t let a run cross home plate, and the Mets went down fighting in the ninth.
David Peterson and Zach Davies square off in game 2 tomorrow evening at Wrigley Field.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Luis Guillorme, +11.5% WPA
Big Mets loser: Brandon Nimmo, -24.2% WPA
Mets pitchers: -4.3% WPA
Mets hitters: -45.7% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Luis Guillorme’s ninth-inning pitch hit, +11.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: The messy Willson Contreras at-bat/J.D. Davis error/Eric Sogard scoring fiasco in the third inning, -11.3% WPA